Saturday, October 10, 2009

SUPPLEMENT C


Number of spaceships

Supplement C Date: October 10, 2009

Risk is defined as,”Possibility of loss or injury; exposure to hazard or danger; degree or probability of loss.” The mission conceived herein may be described as the riskiest of all ventures, for at least two reasons. First, faster than light travel has never been demonstrated convincingly, nor has it been shown to even be possible. Second, the failure of the present mission to settle humans on an extrasolar planet could well signify the end of humanity.

Therefore, a guiding principle that should be followed in any implementation of this salvation mission is that of reduction of risk. One way to reduce mission risk would be to use several spaceships, instead of the single spaceship discussed previously.

The several spaceships, which should be nearly identical to each other, should travel together, forming a flotilla. A flotilla of spaceships will significantly improve the probability of mission success. These ships will almost certainly be complicated transportation systems, systems that are not immune to breakdowns. The flight times will be long, of the order of years in duration, even if the superlight speed is successful. If only one spaceship is used, a malfunction that occurs aboard it would very likely be catastrophic. It would cause mission failure; the settlers would not be brought to the target planet. But, if other spaceships are nearby, the settlers and crew from the failed ship could be transferred to the other members of the flotilla, thereby saving the personnel and the mission.

The reusable space shuttles carried by each spaceship could be used to effect the transfer. Optimally, each member of the flotilla should be a little larger than required to accommodate only its crew and settlers. This increased size will allow for one or two malfunctions during the mission. The items to be transferred to the other ships should be approximately equal numbers of people, plus equal fractions of the cargo carried by the failed ship. To the maximum feasible extent, the failed ship should be cannibalized.

Finally, in considering recruitment of personnel for the mission, there is human psychology to consider. If only one ship is used, the occurrence of a mishap that prevents completion of the trip would mean that all of them, crew and settlers alike, would be lost. But, the presence of the other ships of the flotilla, would offer the possibility of rescue for each member of the crew and the settlers. The psychological importance of having friendly spaceships in the vicinity cannot be over estimated.

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