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Dec 14, 2012

Europa Report Reality Base

Posted by in category: space

I was told once the secret to a good movie is suspension of disbelief.

This is a hard nut to crack for anyone making a good sci-fi movie because the closer you get to suspending that disbelief the farther away you get from what is entertaining and familiar to moviegoers.

For the true space geek sci-fi movies invariably disappoint. Anyone familiar with the basics of space flight knows things about gravity and physics that ruin any possible suspension of disbelief in these movies.

We will see how close this one comes to addressing things like:

1. Water. The minimum radiation shielding for a deep space crew is about 14 feet of water massing 400 tons for a small capsule. A living space large enough to keep more than a couple people from going crazy over a mult-year mission is going to require a water shield be in the thousand or thousands of ton range. The only practical place to get this water is the Moon. This much water is also required to run a multi-year life support system.

2. Bombs. This massive water shield means only one kind of propulsion system will work; nuclear pulse propulsion which uses redesigned nuclear weapons to shove a spaceship faster and faster with clouds of superheated plasma. This cloud behind the ship is projected against a giant metal alloy pusher plate also massing several thousand tons. These bombs focus energy in a slug which is then blasted into a cloud that pushes the ship and the filler for these slugs can be melted ice from Europa for the return flight. The only practical place to launch such a mission is the moon. No lighting off nukes in Earth orbit please.

3. Gravity. Besides radiation shielding the other necessary requirement for a multi-year deep space mission is one gravity. The way to do this with a space ship of a few thousand tons is by splitting the ship in half when not using bombs and reeling out each half on a tether for several thousand feet and spinning them around each other. The pusher plate can be kept in the center of this system while the nuclear reactor and stores can be at one extreme and the shielded crew section at the other.

This is the basic minimum spaceship for a trip to the outer moons. How close will this movie answer these basic space geek requirements of Water, Bombs, and Gravity? 

I am starving for some suspension of disbelief.

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