Well guuud , then ya don't need to give yer self a migraine thinnin' about it !
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Optimum Spaceship Design ?*The real preposition begins on page.8 , Reply # 145 . All before that is exploritory .
Let the assumption be that we have developed an effective Impulse Drive . Not a rocket , not an ion thruster , but a powerful & efficient , nuclear-powered , drive mechanism . This being the case we can presume peak travel velocities in excess of 1 million miles per hour . Although such a ship can afford to carry adequate radiation shielding for the job , interplanetary dust and debris pose a lethal danger . At full speed , one pea-sized rock would impact a ship with more explosive power than a stick of dynamite . Such an impact would punch through blunt shielding , wrenching the ship badly , and spraying deadly shrapnel through it's interior . To prevent this , a different type of shield is necessary . The most effective design would be a long cone . This would be slightly wider than the ship , and held ahead of the ship by flexible mounts . Constructed mainly of high-tech , impact-absorbing materials , it would be coated with a thick layer of iron sand , contained within an aluminum skin . The resultant composite effect would absorb tremendous energy , and yet be reasonably light .
The ship proper would be a long, thin , pencil-like design . In other words ; a Needle-Ship . The crew working & living spaces would be directly behind the cone . The supplies & auxiliary craft would be next , the Impulse Drive machinery would be after that , and the Reactors ( w/minimal shielding ) would be last .
Electric thrusters would arranged about the ship for fine attitude control . Heat radiators , solar panels , antennas , etc. would all be arranged strategically on the ship exterior.
The final requirement would be the trajectory . In order to minimize in-flight impacts , the ship would need to follow a parabolic trajectory , rising up above the plane of the ecliptic . This would place the high-speed portion of it's course above 99% of possible impactors .
A ship of this type would benefit from full recycling of organic waste products . Pre-positioning of LNG would also improve capability . A two-ship formation would magnify safety and redundancy , and possibly allow for tethered , centripetal gravity as well .
Alright , this would kick 2001s Odyssey all over the place !
Enjoy your new spaceship ! .P.M.