Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lagrange Way Stations: The Key Towards Interplanetary Trade? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas

(Image: Deep Space 9, Credit: Star Trek)

Several thousand years ago, an empire called Rome used its extensive road system to keep communication and trade flowing throughout its empire.

Today, like Rome, the nations on Earth depend upon sea routes, railways and airplanes to safely transport goods and people across our planet.

But unlike the fixed destination points that span our busy world, space will pose a unique problem for future colonies. Since each planet orbits our Sol star at different speeds, sending frequent goods towards outposts off world may prove to be a bit of a challenge, especially if one factors in space pirates.

Whether composed of enormous orbital space stations or a fleet of armed star ships, future solar governments may want to construct way stations at various Lagrange points to ensure that they arrive at their destinations intact.

Sometimes referred to by scientists as the "three body problem," would provide stable orbits for whatever star ship was able fly within its space (at least L4 and L5).

Positioned at an equal distance from both the home world/moon as well as the Sun, a Lagrange way station would easily remain in a fixed orbital position giving more opportunity for travelers and cargo ships to transport people and goods across the vacuum of space.

Instead of having to wait every few years for the planets "to align," (like with Earth and Mars), star ships could simply head towards a safe way station located in a Lagrange point.

While creating Lagrange way stations may be a challenge for future colonies within the inner solar system, establishing them among the gas giants orbits will probably be "much easier" thanks in part to various asteroids.

Jovian worlds such as Jupiter and Neptune already have numerous space rocks orbiting, respectively, orbiting within these Lagrange points. Colonists could easily use these asteroids as way stations, especially if some of these frozen rocks are discovered to harbor water ice.

Despite the fact that humanity will continue to depend upon worlds (such as Callisto) to help to economically bridge the gap, way stations strategically positioned around Lagrange points could help jump start interplanetary trade, if not accelerate it throughout our vast star system.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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