On Mon, Feb 03, 2003 at 10:26:57AM -0600, Ron Johnson wrote:
As much of a fan of "space" science fiction that I am, the pragmatist
in me must wonder if space planes will ever become practical until
some new, relatively compact and light-weight, thrust generating energy
source is invented.
Also, the *incredible* re-enrty speeds and friction will have to some-
how be ameliorated. (We're all impressed when the SR-71 travels at
Mach 3 at 26,000 meters, and it's titanium body expands so much to seal
the fuel tanks, but Columbia was traveling at Mach 17 and the nose of
the craft was so hot that it turned the atmosphere into plasma!)
And it goes w/o saying that artificial gravity (that can be powered by
the same enery source that propells the ship) will have to be invented
so that man's skeletal system won't fall apart during prolonged space
travel. (Also, imagine how huch easier it would make eating, sleeping,
shaving, deficating, etc...)
That sort of "artificial gravity" can be adequately simulated by
spinning things - no problem there.
"Real" artificial gravity would be very useful, so you could
accelerate to relativistic speeds in a reasonable time without turning
yourself into a monatomic layer in the process.
And of course it's probably the key to building a "warp drive" (Star
Trek, not an HDD with an IBM OS on it)