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Old 06-14-2019, 11:54 AM   #21
Rupert
 
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Default Re: Nuclear Age Space Exploration [Space/Spaceships]

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Which is just copying the prototype, which is covered in Basic (p. 474). It costs the retail cost of the object to create and half the time as the original prototype. In the case of a Saturn V, it would take 3d/2 to create each copy, assuming enough people working on the project, but you could always have multiple groups working on multiple copies. Remember, the Apollo Program employed 400,000 people, so they could have easily transformed everything into production lines had they had the need.
For certain definitions of 'easy'. They didn't actually have the plans and designs for mass-production of the motors. Had there been a contract for mass-production doing those and building a production line would've the next step, and it wouldn't have been cheap, though the cost per unit would've become reasonable had they produced enough of them, obviously.
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In any case, you could have easily designed a SM+10 reusable variant that would have been capable of delivering 300 tons to LEO for a launch cost of ~$30M, or $100,000 per ton.
That's an interesting leap, there. Reusable rocket motors are not a trivial step from one-use, as the shuttle's main engine shows.
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:16 PM   #22
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Default Re: Nuclear Age Space Exploration [Space/Spaceships]

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NASA already did the work up in 1977. Just look up NASA SP-413 Space Settlements: A Design Study. While they were thinking of using a space shuttle rather than a Saturn V variant, they built a dang good economic case for something that could have been done with 1970s technology.
So, I did that. And to my complete lack of surprise, they (A) did no work to prove that orbital beamed power would actually work and (B) actually had a section saying that orbital beamed power was the only economic justification they could some up with.
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:29 PM   #23
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Default Re: Nuclear Age Space Exploration [Space/Spaceships]

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Orbital power generation is indeed easy...so long as you want to use the power in orbit.

Getting it to the surface is a bit less of a trivial solved problem.
One that looks like an engineering problem as opposed to discover new laws of physics problem. They did preliminary studies in the 1970's on using microwaves to broadcast electric power. It isn't efficient for earthbound uses but what counts as useful efficiency is a matter of context.
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:31 PM   #24
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Default Re: Nuclear Age Space Exploration [Space/Spaceships]

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
NASA already did the work up in 1977. Just look up NASA SP-413 Space Settlements: A Design Study. While they were thinking of using a space shuttle rather than a Saturn V variant, they built a dang good economic case for something that could have been done with 1970s technology.

So, what type of setting would evolve if the USA had built such an orbital solar power array? The USA could have 10 TW of electricity production under its control, enough to supply the developed world with all of its energy needs (assuming that plentiful and cheap electricity would have prompted earlier investment in electric vehicles). The space industry would be worth over $4 trillion per year by 2020, and the US government would have had control over the vast majority of it. What happens in a setting where the US government has no debt and it controls 60% of the energy production on Earth?
I'll build an infinite worlds setting on that.
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:47 PM   #25
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Default Re: Nuclear Age Space Exploration [Space/Spaceships]

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Orbital power generation is indeed easy...so long as you want to use the power in orbit.

Getting it to the surface is a bit less of a trivial solved problem.
Well, it's got reasonably well understood solutions. The problem is that space-based solar is only around 4x the power per unit area of reasonably well sited static ground-based solar, more like 2.5x panels designed to follow the sun, and the cost difference is larger than that.
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