March 2013

A Starship Report from Brussels

March 29, 2013

Tau Zero’s founding architect brings news of a recent European Union meeting that included starships and their implications on the agenda. Here’s hoping that while he was there he also had the chance to sample some of those fabulous Belgian ales… by Marc Millis The European Union recently held a conference to collect information to […]

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Into the Orion Arm

March 28, 2013

Although we have little observational data to go on, the existence of the Oort Cloud simply makes sense. We see new comets coming into the inner system that are breaking up as they approach the Sun, obviously not candidates for long survival. There has to be a source containing billions of comets to account for […]

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Life Among the Comets

March 27, 2013

It’s hard to imagine a sane human being who would choose to live in the Oort Cloud, on a colony world where the outside temperature is in the single digits Kelvin and small bands of maybe 25 each would tend to the problems of energy production and resource extraction. Human contact beyond this would be […]

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Into the Oort Cloud: A Cometary Civilization?

March 26, 2013

Jules Verne once had the notion of a comet grazing the Earth and carrying off a number of astounded people, whose adventures comprise the plot of the 1877 novel Off on a Comet. It’s a great yarn that was chosen by Hugo Gernsback to be reprinted as a serial in the first issues of his […]

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The British Interplanetary Society at 80 Years: Part II

March 25, 2013

by Kelvin F. Long The chief editor of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society here offers part II of his article on the Society’s history. If there is one BIS project that captures the imagination above all others, it’s surely Project Daedalus, the ambitious attempt to design a spacecraft capable of reaching a nearby […]

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The British Interplanetary Society at 80 Years

March 22, 2013

by Kelvin F.Long Centauri Dreams readers will know Kelvin Long as the Chief Editor for the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, but the résumé hardly stops there. He is also the Deputy Chair of the BIS Technical Committee and a member of the governing council. Long is the co-founder of Project Icarus, co-founder of […]

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Voyager: Looking Backward and Forward

March 21, 2013

The Voyager spacecraft have run into their share of problems as they move toward true interstellar space, but on the whole their continued operations have been a testament to what well designed equipment can do. Voyager 2’s camera platform locked for a time not long after the Saturn flyby but controllers were able to restore […]

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Keeping the Probe Alive

March 20, 2013

Talking about issues of long-term maintenance and repair, as we have been for the past two days, raises the question of what we mean by ‘self-healing.’ As some commenters have noted, the recent Caltech work on computer chips that can recover from damage isn’t really healing at all. Caltech’s researchers zap the chip with a […]

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Autonomy and the Interstellar Probe

March 19, 2013

Yesterday’s thoughts on self-repairing chips, as demonstrated by recent work at Caltech, inevitably called Project Daedalus to mind. The span between the creation of the Daedalus design in the 1970s and today covers the development of the personal computer and the emergence of global networking, so it’s understandable that the way we view autonomy has […]

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Self-Healing Circuits for Deep Space

March 18, 2013

Computer failures can happen any time, but it’s been so long since I’ve had a hard disk failure that I rarely worry about such problems. Part of my relaxed stance has to do with backups, which I always keep in triplicate, so when I discovered Friday afternoon that one of my hard disks had failed […]

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