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Paul Birch and Mass Stream applications for the real world
(02-26-2014, 07:38 AM)Dalex Wrote: Well for starters USSR and USA would have reason for another space race.

Why? The space race was predominately about preventing the other side get a lead on potential militarisation of space. After the Moon landings it cooled off because the former was achieved and the public interest was waning (not to mention the cost).

With regards to prototypes, planned missions and mass production: it might have worked, you can't say it definitely would have, and it would have cost a hell of a lot before it got any cheaper. Yes mass produced space craft would be cheaper per unit but it still requires a larger investment for little return. Also to quote myself from earlier: a conceptual plan and a finished product are not the same thing by a long shot. Technologies might not develop as planned, engineering solutions may be more difficult than previously thought, the unknown unknowns will cause delays and extra obstacles. You have to be highly skeptical of any estimated budget and timeline for a megaproject. Look at the ITER project which has required cost revisions upwards of several billion.

This is all getting a bit tangential. Yes it could have been physically possible to pursue a far greater manned presence in space but at huge cost with uncertainty over how technology and economics would have progressed and no strongly foreseeable ROI greater than that which could be gained funding technological development on Earth. Sure some space technologies spin off but a lot more comes from Earth-side work.

To try and pull the conversation back on topic: the epic space adventure of the golden age of SF didn't happen. IMO for good reasons, others might think they were bad reasons but w/e. The point is that the space narrative hasn't been a strong part of western culture for quite a while. It's been two generations since someone has even been on the Moon. Cyperpunk is the only major form of SF I can think of that has had "big ideas" without space. Some transhumanism does but it's often tied up with New Space Opera. So if we want big ideas IMO we have to stop trying to bring back the big ideas of the past because they are small now.

Incidentally Charles Stross covered this topic a couple of years ago in his blog, I think his take on it is very interesting:

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RE: Paul Birch and Mass Stream applications for the real world - by Rynn - 02-26-2014, 09:18 AM

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