Science Fiction forays into the inherent problems of Interstellar Travel Part 2
In part one of this series, I’ve talked about potential prerequisite conditions for shorter interstellar journeys, but what about longer voyages?
I’ll be honest at the outset, I am not a fan of a centralized multi generational arks. Huge ships bearing so much and all centralized to a singular ship. Why?
Firstly, it seems reminiscent of the perils in our history. Namely, the Titanic. Why?
A better title to this essay might be: how to build a better ship that should something go wrong survives.
Firstly much as in Naval warship design, the Titanic while having a compartmentalized hull was a hybrid form. Its containment systems for breach weren’t solid enough. The rest is history.
It seems better fitting that any multi generational ship or ships designed for long voyages are compartmentalized enough so that a breech of any part of the system is neither catastrophic to the system as a whole. I’ve better imagined an armada like array in this case where, for instance, one ship or an array of ships are designed for the purpose of agricultural production. Another might be designed for entertainment. Another for living quarters, another for repairs, and so forth. An inter transport network might be designed between ships, so that inhabitants could easily traverse the network of ships, but a given breach and subsequent catastrophe neither fails as likely the whole of the fleet, or more strictly vessel compartmentalized system.
In the midst of COVID-19 though if you could imagine, the problems with those stranded at sea, the prospects for a slower moving voyage extending beyond years seems dim in terms of social ramifications. Granted one might have the fortune to escape confinement beyond a room, imagine your world wrapped up in even a larger vessel or a fleet of them, and traveling for a lifetime until your progeny at long last awoke to see that the star system worthy of reaching with presumably reasonable destination in store.
This leads some to suggest cryosleep chambers as an method to the doldrums of long space flight, if such technology could be developed. The likelihood, of large ark like space ships or even armadas have the draw back of being to too massive to extend to reasonable subluminal velocities given energy requirements at present. More so, it would be more likely that cryochambers could solve such long distance flight problems if reductions in the mass of a space vessel were possible at the expense of comfort, but at least this extends the possibility that a one way trip one hundred light years weren’t out of one’s lifetime reach.