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Old 06-11-2019, 12:34 PM   #11
RyanW
 
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Default Re: Approaching TL9?

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Originally Posted by Phantasm View Post
Our space travel/colonization tech may be on the Slow (2040) or even Retarded (2050) progressions, but I think we're still in TL8 there. Just because we don't have a moon base doesn't mean the advancements developed for the later shuttles (Atlantis and Endeavor) or our newer and faster probes (New Horizons) are "still TL7".
The Dawn mission is undeniably TL8. We just got saddled for a long time with an overdesigned late TL7/early TL8 design for our primary manned spacecraft.
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Old 06-11-2019, 01:05 PM   #12
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Default Re: Approaching TL9?

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Originally Posted by RyanW View Post
The Dawn mission is undeniably TL8. We just got saddled for a long time with an overdesigned late TL7/early TL8 design for our primary manned spacecraft.
Actually, we could have done the Dawn mission with TL7 technology according to Spaceships. While the ion drives are technically TL8, they were only used to supply around 7 mps of delta-v, which could have been done more effectively with TL7 chemical rockets. In fact, an argument that could be made that the cost for the Dawn mission far exceeded what it should have been with mature TL7 space technology. In fact, it would have been better using TL7 technology.

Improved Dawn Mission (TL7)

First Stage: 1,000 tons
Components: Upper Stage, Fuel Tanks (13), and Chemical Rocket (1)-3.12 mps

Second Stage: 300 tons
Components: Upper Stage, Fuel Tanks (13), and Chemical Rocket (1)-3.12 mps

Third Stage: 100 tons
Components: Upper Stage, Fuel Tanks (13), and Chemical Rocket (1)-3.12 mps

Fourth Stage: 30 tons
Components: Upper Stage, Fuel Tanks (13), and Chemical Rocket (1)-3.12 mps

Fifth Stage: 10 tons
Components: Light Alloy Armor (2), Control Room (2), Scientific Comm/Sensor Array (2), Fuel Tanks (13), and Chemical Rocket (1)-3.12 mps

With 15.6 mps of delta-v, the improved Dawn mission would have made more flexibility than our version, would have been more efficient because it could have used Oberth maneuvers, and would have been more robust because of the spare Control Room and Scientific Comm/Sensor Array.
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Old 06-11-2019, 08:43 PM   #13
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Default Re: Approaching TL9?

As noted by another - it is hard to predict the future.

Note that when GURPS ULTRATECH first came out for GURPS 3e, the Just around the corner from now predictions fell into two categories...

We already have it today - which indicates that some few of the items were mis-labeled as to what their TL should have been or...

We still don't have it yet.

TL 8 (which is the just around the corner TL for the older Tech tree in GURPS 3e) is to that system as TL 9 is to this. Using the revamped TL tree offered in TRANSHUMAN SPACe, we're STILL not entirely at TL 8.

<shrug>

In the end, you can simply go the route you want as GM and wave your hands saying "Thus it is" or not. Me? I honestly don't think we're in TL 9 as yet. Inching towards it, yes, but actually there? No. Automated cars aren't in mainstream use in the United States or Japan or anywhere else for that matter. Even back in the day, early GURPS didn't predict or require that the entire world have a given technology in operation per se, but that the technology was in wider use.

So - we're not in TL 8 for GURPS 3e rules, nor are we in TL 9 for 4e rules in my opinion.

Now for the really FUN part.

Have you noted that GURPS has tech tree evaluations in which one can accelerate some aspects of a Tech level, but leave alone or even retard other aspects? Using computers as a guideline for tech advancement seems to follow that one concept - as far as many others are concerned. I still would like to ask one simple question...

What precisely is "Complexity" in real world terms? What complexity rating would you assign to Microsoft's OFFICE SUITE from 1995 as compared/contrasted against Office Suite 2010 vs what it has become today? What complexity rating would you assign any of the 3D software that has been written in the past vs what has been designated as cutting edge software today?

Until we have an actual "This is complexity X" for various software - how do you relate it to anything in GURPS where computers are concerned - and how to you determine if we've hit TL 9 for computers today?

(I would advise that if you want to answer this question specifically, that rather than derail this thread, to open up a new one instead).
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:42 PM   #14
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Default Re: Approaching TL9?

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With 15.6 mps of delta-v, the improved Dawn mission would have made more flexibility than our version, would have been more efficient because it could have used Oberth maneuvers, and would have been more robust because of the spare Control Room and Scientific Comm/Sensor Array.
It also uses a much larger vehicle. The second stage is heavier than the Delta II that served as Dawn's launch vehicle. Unless your argument is that we don't have TL9 space budgets* (we also don't have TL7 space budgets, for that matter), what conceivably could be built is largely irrelevant. You also seem to be comparing this craft's 15.6 mps to Dawn's ~7 mps, but Dawn was already on an Earth escape trajectory when that odometer started ticking.

* And remember that pretty much every spacecraft is a one-off, subject to production cost increases that GURPS Spaceships happily ignores.
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Old 06-11-2019, 11:40 PM   #15
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We do not even have a mature TL7 space industry, much less a mature TL8 space industry, so everything is one off missions that cost 100x as much. For example, a mature TL7 space industry would be able to put stuff into LEO for $500 per kilogram, but we have problems getting the price down to $5000 per kilogram (SpaceX has aspirational goals, but they are charging the same as everyone else).

For example, a mature TL7 space industry would use a four stage design to put stuff into LEO (three lift stages and one cargo stage). The first two lift stages would have 12 fuel tanks, one soft-landing system, and a chemical rockets, each giving 2.52 mps of delta-v. The third lift stage would have 10 fuel tanks, one soft-landing system, one control room, one chemical rocket, and one habitat. The cargo stage would be the payload. Starting with a 1,000 ton vehicle, you could put 30 tons into orbit for $680k worth of reaction mass and $800k worth of soft-landing systems, a total of $1.48M or $55 per kilogram. Even if you quadrupled the cost to $6M per launch to account for everything else, the cost would only be $223 per kilogram, which is 10% of even the best estimation of SpaceX. It is sad truth, but we are not that good at space.
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Old 06-12-2019, 02:19 AM   #16
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Default Re: Approaching TL9?

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We do not even have a mature TL7 space industry, much less a mature TL8 space industry, so everything is one off missions that cost 100x as much.
Nobody has yet figured out much of a reason to go to space much more often than we do now. As much as I'd love to live in a scifi world of Pan Am flights leaving for the moon five times a day, there's just right now not a profit in it. The production scales needed to substantially reduce production costs are unlikely to be supportable, even with the increased demand due to the reduced cost.

"Having a mature industry" and "being at a particular TL" are two different things. We have put ion engines into operation, and that is a TL8 technology. The fact that we haven't done it a lot of times doesn't mean we haven't reached TL8. By that logic, we might not even be up to TL7 rocketry because nobody made more than a handful of nuclear thermal rockets (and none flew).
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:12 AM   #17
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Default Re: Approaching TL9?

One item does not make a TL, as you can development experimental technology through the normal invention rules, which can be a TL ahead of the baseline technology. A TL8 ion drive for a SM+4 vehicle (six times as large as Dawn) should cost only $30k. The ion drive on Dawn ended up costing as much as 100x as much, meaning that it is experimental technology, so you could just as easily say that it is a TL8 experiment from a TL7 technology.
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:59 AM   #18
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Default Re: Approaching TL9?

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
One item does not make a TL, as you can development experimental technology through the normal invention rules, which can be a TL ahead of the baseline technology. A TL8 ion drive for a SM+4 vehicle (six times as large as Dawn) should cost only $30k. The ion drive on Dawn ended up costing as much as 100x as much, meaning that it is experimental technology, so you could just as easily say that it is a TL8 experiment from a TL7 technology.
It is experimental technology to an extent, but that's not why it's expensive. It's expensive because there's next to no demand and no standard models either. Any space probe, and most of the equipment inside any space probe, is a one-off custom build. Boosters and some manned capsules and satellite constellations might be limited series production. Probably nothing except ICBMs (and maybe ASAT missiles if you count those) has really been mass produced.

That has nothing to do with tech level.
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Old 06-12-2019, 11:17 AM   #19
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Default Re: Approaching TL9?

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
One item does not make a TL, as you can development experimental technology through the normal invention rules, which can be a TL ahead of the baseline technology. A TL8 ion drive for a SM+4 vehicle (six times as large as Dawn) should cost only $30k. The ion drive on Dawn ended up costing as much as 100x as much, meaning that it is experimental technology, so you could just as easily say that it is a TL8 experiment from a TL7 technology.
Spaceships dramatically understates the costs of spaceship components to make them more affordable to characters (although the resulting ships still aren't very affordable), but part of this is because it assumes mass production, and space hasn't been something we interact with enough to justify such.

As for the experimental nature of ion drives, I'd say that would be appropriate for the ones tested in the 60's (which was indeed TL7), but the modern ones are sufficiently mature to be called a part of the current TL.

I certainly do agree we'd be more advanced than we are now if we'd invested more in space travel, but that's more along the lines of things being cheaper and us potentially having access to some of the technology Spaceships defines as TL9... because GURPS defines TL's up to 8 by what actually happened/existed, rather than by what could have happened/existed given different parameters. I'll admit Spaceships does do a bit of the "could have been" exploration with giving stats for non-experimental tech that I don't think ever got beyond experimental (or even just theoretical, like the Orion as I understand it).
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Old 06-12-2019, 01:58 PM   #20
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Default Re: Approaching TL9?

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Actually, we could have done the Dawn mission with TL7 technology according to Spaceships.
I hate to break this to you, but the Chemical Rockets presented in GURPS Spaceships are almost implausibly efficient compared to chemical rockets we have today. Even assuming that Fuel Tanks have a negligible dry mass, the specific impulse ends up around 468.38 seconds, slightly more efficient than modern upper stages. Adding in an adjustment for fuel tank structure makes them even more efficient. On top of this, rocket engines designed to operate from launch aren't even close to this level of efficiency because of higher thrust demands and pressure differences.
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