Jump to content

Scifi space resources... what are they good for?


Spacescifi
 Share

Recommended Posts

 

So it dawned on me that much of the resources in space currently are good for building a space economy, but not really for Earth in any way. Unless you beam solar energy down with giant mirrors and solar pabels to collect.

Since the resources needed to bring a lot of anything back to Earth would outweigh what we get back.

 

With unlimited scifi constant acceleration everything changes. By the way, the source of it is easy matter conversion to antimatter. You could take a sandwich and run it through the converter and it would be an antimatter sandwich on the other side. Beam core rockets or fission antimatter rockets, either or.

 

How do things change?

1. No more spacestations. Instead, planet based spaceports on the moon and mars. Why build a station in space when getting to space is easy? Especially when stations are easier to resupply on planets anyway.

2. What is a gas giant worth for resources now? In theory you could scoop the atmosphere for fuel to convert to antimatter. But it would be safer and easier to just land on some random moon or chase down an asteroid.

 

That's what I was thinking.

Have anything to add?

Edited by Spacescifi
Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

Pluto is not a planet anymore. It's a bus stop.

 

True... I was thinking that the opportunities here to consider the full implications of a given tech are rarely explored fully in scifi, (with babylon 5 thet do give it a good effort though).

Also the opportunities for creating humor are endless. I was thinking of a creating a plot where aliens make peaceful contact with earth.

After several years of humans asking for an uplift and the aliens being dismissive about it, they finally concede.

Location: NASA HQ

The aliens land one of these via massive SSTO nearby.

2.jpg

 

Human official: Uh... does that run on thermonuclear weapons?"

Alien ambassador: "Antimatter bombs. It is also preloaded."

"We do appreciate your gift, but we were hoping for one of your constant acceleration crafts?"

 "This qualifies."

"Yes, but you of all people know how destructive antimatter is."

"Just launch it in the Nevada desert or the wilderness of Siberia."

"It's not that simple."

"Oh really?"

Alien ambassador clicks a remote and the TV screen shows Russia launching an antimatter Orion to orbit.

The American official's jaw drops.

"You gave the Russians antimatter bombs?!"

"Are you concerned they will start more wars than they already have?"

"You knew THAT and still-"

"They won't be starting any wars with antimatter. And neither will your country. We have failsafes for that."

"How?"

"Do you really think we could process as much antimatter as we do safely if we could not contain it?"

"I see, but I am not sure the air regulators will let antimatter bombs explode in our atmosphere.

"We could always trade them for thermonuclear bombs if you wish?"

"Nevermind. We'll keep it."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, Spacescifi said:

The aliens land one of these via massive SSTO nearby.

A Soviet Orion Battleship?

And the first phrase they say is: "Zdravstvuyte, tovarishchi!" ("Greetings, comrades!")

***

Also then it should look like this and named PK-3000:
1505813101173250973.jpg

Edited by kerbiloid
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, kerbiloid said:

A Soviet Orion Battleship?

And the first phrase they say is: "Zdravstvuyte, tovarishchi!" ("Greetings, comrades!")

 

Nah, they're not Russian, but they have been on and around Earth for several years.

So they are familiar enough with us to actually replicate our tech and even improve it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Spacescifi said:

Nah, they're not Russian, but they have been on and around Earth for several years.

So they are familiar enough with us to actually replicate our tech and even improve it.

You see? They did it, the "PK-3000" project.

Ok, not Russians, there is a lot of other nationalities here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, kerbiloid said:

You see? They did it, the "PK-3000" project.

Ok, not Russians, there is a lot of other nationalities here.

 

What?! Are you saying someone built and actually launched an Orion already?!

Edited by Spacescifi
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, Spacescifi said:

What?! Are you saying some built and actually launched an Orion already?!

Who knows, you said they are hanging around the Earth for years.

Maybe the PK-3000 has been built, launched, and forgotten since then...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

52 minutes ago, Spacescifi said:

With unlimited scifi constant acceleration everything changes. By the way, the source of it is easy matter conversion to antimatter. You could take a sandwich and run it through the converter and it would be an antimatter sandwich on the other side.

Have anything to add?

Seriously? You want to consider what would happen if you introduced such a ridiculous premise?

Anything can happen. A single terrorist can wipe out an entire continent by dropping some sandwiches from a plane.

It could also satisfy world energy demands.

And yes, it could help you get all the space rocks you could ever need to wherever you need them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Shpaget said:

Seriously? You want to consider what would happen if you introduced such a ridiculous premise?

Anything can happen. A single terrorist can wipe out an entire continent by dropping some sandwiches from a plane.

It could also satisfy world energy demands.

And yes, it could help you get all the space rocks you could ever need to wherever you need them.

 

Only somewhat.

Truth is, even then some places are off limits.

Go too deep into jupiter and the pressure will implode your vessel.

Go to the sun and you will burn up before you ever get there.

Plenty more places you still could not go boldly where no man has gone before.

 

I guess the main subject is, what are space resources for in such a setting?

How could one even make money off them?

Edited by Spacescifi
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Access to unlimited anything kills the drama. I remember a fragment from a classic Sci-fi novel "What mad Universe." Protagonist gets transported to alternative reality based on imagination of one particularly active and obnoxious inventive member of a science fiction magazine fandom (yes, it is a spoof on the die-hard, rabid fans :) ). It's every nerd's dream come true : square - jawed heroes in silvery space suits flying FTL spaceships across the Universe, ongoing interstellar war with agressive aliens and plenty of "space girls" clad in very... very... skimpy outfits to woo. Unfortunately... science fiction is sadly no longer a thing. Since you can actually buy and fly an FTL - capable spaceship literally everywhere you want, fiction is no longer a part of the equation. Time travel stories are everything left that can be still qualified as sci-fi. Rest is adventure and "space western" stories. Protagonist finds this... disconcerting, though he eventually learns how to play rules of this mad world to his advantage :)

So, if you are thinking about dabbling in such stories, please do remember that excess of anything can quickly kill any setting and any story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, Scotius said:

Access to unlimited anything kills the drama. I remember a fragment from a classic Sci-fi novel "What mad Universe." Protagonist gets transported to alternative reality based on imagination of one particularly active and obnoxious inventive member of a science fiction magazine fandom (yes, it is a spoof on the die-hard, rabid fans :) ). It's every nerd's dream come true : square - jawed heroes in silvery space suits flying FTL spaceships across the Universe, ongoing interstellar war with agressive aliens and plenty of "space girls" clad in very... very... skimpy outfits to woo. Unfortunately... science fiction is sadly no longer a thing. Since you can actually buy and fly an FTL - capable spaceship literally everywhere you want, fiction is no longer a part of the equation. Time travel stories are everything left that can be still qualified as sci-fi. Rest is adventure and "space western" stories. Protagonist finds this... disconcerting, though he eventually learns how to play rules of this mad world to his advantage :)

So, if you are thinking about dabbling in such stories, please do remember that excess of anything can quickly kill any setting and any story.

 

Fully aware. Antimatter is just an example that people can easier discuss.

 

Yet I also tend to think that constant acceleration drives are needed if you wanna keep the scifi tech to a minimum.

 

For example, even if we had a working jump drive to translate us across space to another solar system, we would still have to use engines for trajectory and speed matching, asduming we did not do so beforehand.

 

Here is the real kicker that demonstrates the need for fast constant acceleration:

Some stars have a 100 kilometer per second orbital speed difference with our sun, try compenstating for that with limited fuel and you begin to see the problem.

Constant acceleration, like it or not, is one of the easiest, less imaginitive ways to get around in scifi.

With limited fuel you will have to spend most of your time in space drinking tang, waiting as you coast or near a planey for a gravity slingshot. Or try a really dangerous goal of orbital gas giant refueling.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"So. I got up in the morning. Then took a taxi to spaceport. Boarded a shuttle, transferred to the jumpship and ten minutes later we were in Tau Ceti system. Unfortunately we emerged about seven light - minutes from our destination, so it took forever to reach the planet and land. Good thing i took a magazine with me - i had plenty of time to read it, and solve the crossword while we were blazing along Brachistochrone trajectory. And how was your day, darling?"

Yeahhhhh. :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

space resources would likely be used by the space dwelling subset of humanity but there would likely be a lot of trade with terrestrial humans. though it is significantly easier to deliver goods from space to earth than the other way around. so small higher cost items (say semiconductors) would be going up with mostly raw resources (like precious metals) going the other way. also isotopes would be a likely trade good as there are a lot of things that are rare on earth that form naturally in space (like helium 3).

Edited by Nuke
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

Since the resources needed to bring a lot of anything back to Earth would outweigh what we get back.

There are many, many different possible ways of doing things and of looking at things... that say that is not true.

You can gravitationally tether celestial bodies to alter their trajectories using only a unmanned probe with a solar sail for station keeping... and time. All you need to do is park the probe next to it. (And you get the probe back at the end @[email protected]!)

(There are really so many ways to go about doing things I’m not going to list all the ones I can think of, it’s totally on you to work on your imagination :p)

Edited by Guest
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

 

So it dawned on me that much of the resources in space currently are good for building a space economy, but not really for Earth in any way. Unless you beam solar energy down with giant mirrors and solar pabels to collect.

Since the resources needed to bring a lot of anything back to Earth would outweigh what we get back.

I would dispute that actually.

Current launch costs to LEO can get as low as about $2,500 per kilogram based on 2018 prices for a fully expendable Falcon Heavy.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Starship turns out to be everything that SpaceX hope. Fully, rapidly reusable, 100 tons to orbit ( downmass will be rather less but still substantial) etc.

I have no idea what that will do for launch costs but hey - this is science fiction. Let’s go for another factor of five reduction to around $500 per kilo.

Today’s gold price is around $46,000 per kilo. Searching for other metal prices per kilo (although I have no idea how current or reliable these are): platinum - $26,000, silver - $518, neodymium - $107, indium - $350.

Okay, the numbers don’t quite add up - and looking at launch costs vs refined metal prices is a simplistic analysis to put it very politely. But neither are the numbers so completely far out that I’d be comfortable concluding that it will always be more expensive to obtain resources from space than mine them on Earth.

And that’s for launch hardware that’s on the drawing board and for some parts, at the prototyping and testing stage. No sci-fi spacecraft required.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, Shpaget said:

Seriously? You want to consider what would happen if you introduced such a ridiculous premise?

Anything can happen. A single terrorist can wipe out an entire continent by dropping some sandwiches from a plane.

We cannot allow that to happen! Sandwiches would be outlawed! The end of a delicious snack! #save-the-sandwich

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, RealKerbal3x said:

How exactly would you build an antimatter converter? In science fiction, they do it by 'reversing the polarity' or other technobabble, but how could it be done IRL?

It couldn’t. At least not in the 100% conversion, sandwich to anti-sandwich sense, proposed in this thread.

In real life we take a particle beam made of normal matter, smack it into a stationary target and filter out the antiparticles produced in the collisions. It’s not a particularly efficient process - Fermilab produced about 17 nanograms of antiprotons over the lifetime of its Tevatron accelerator.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They say, antimatter costs 62.5 trillion USD per gram.

So, you should mine antimatter and sell it.

Also if they don't agree with its price, you can double it, if first let them try a probe. 1g of antimatter = 40 kt.

If the ship is unlimited, just set a trap in a low pulsar orbit.

P.S.
Also, you can gift some antimatter to a technical museum.
Just better do it in another town.

 

3 hours ago, Kerbart said:

We cannot allow that to happen! Sandwiches would be outlawed! The end of a delicious snack!

If sandwiches are not tacos, actually not.
But you should first check in the corresponding thread to be sure.

Edited by kerbiloid
Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

Yet I also tend to think that constant acceleration drives are needed if you wanna keep the scifi tech to a minimum.

For example, even if we had a working jump drive to translate us across space to another solar system, we would still have to use engines for trajectory and speed matching, asduming we did not do so beforehand.

Here is the real kicker that demonstrates the need for fast constant acceleration:

Some stars have a 100 kilometer per second orbital speed difference with our sun, try compenstating for that with limited fuel and you begin to see the problem.

Constant acceleration, like it or not, is one of the easiest, less imaginitive ways to get around in scifi.

With limited fuel you will have to spend most of your time in space drinking tang, waiting as you coast or near a planey for a gravity slingshot. Or try a really dangerous goal of orbital gas giant refueling.

 

If you have a working jump-drive with high accuracy, then you match velocities by jumping close to a large gravitational body(like Jupiter) such that your in-fall accelerates you in the correct direction.

If your drive has a large spool-up(like hours or days) you just start that much farther out(having calculated how far you need to fall to be at the correct speed when you are ready to jump again).

Advance users of the jump drive might even use black-holes for velocity matching to cut the time from minutes/hours to seconds or less.

 

A rapid-recharge jump drive gives you a constant acceleration drive with an acceleration equal to the largest gravity well you have available, so no need to invent one seperatly.

Artificial wormholes make for a good theoretically possible approach to jump drives, particularly in harder forms of science fiction.  (Warp drives are theoretically possible as well, but the you will be accused of ripping of star-trek)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Terwin said:

If you have a working jump-drive with high accuracy, then you match velocities by jumping close to a large gravitational body(like Jupiter) such that your in-fall accelerates you in the correct direction.

If your drive has a large spool-up(like hours or days) you just start that much farther out(having calculated how far you need to fall to be at the correct speed when you are ready to jump again).

Advance users of the jump drive might even use black-holes for velocity matching to cut the time from minutes/hours to seconds or less.

 

A rapid-recharge jump drive gives you a constant acceleration drive with an acceleration equal to the largest gravity well you have available, so no need to invent one seperatly.

Artificial wormholes make for a good theoretically possible approach to jump drives, particularly in harder forms of science fiction.  (Warp drives are theoretically possible as well, but the you will be accused of ripping of star-trek)

 

Good points, you're quite imaginative.

As useful as a rapid jump drive would be, I think it would solve too many problems.

But I may still employ at for another alien race.

Can't think of any limitations to such a drive.

In the case of long jump drive recharge times, either star maps or good telescopes would be invaluable for jumping into grav-assist.

Even so, grav-assist would take a non-trivial amount of time. I am thinking a few hours at least, or over an hour at the very least.

Black holes are risky to use for grav-assist because of time dilation.

Pulsars are risky because they spew plasma and radiation and cosmic rays like a massive cosmic flamethrower.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread is quite old. Please consider starting a new thread rather than reviving this one.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...