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Thread: Rationale for a deep space station

  1. #1
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    Rationale for a deep space station

    I'm writing up something around the economics of a deep space station (like ST Deep Space 9) and thinking that its viability depends on regular supplies, even though its role is as a supplier itself, with respect to being a refuelling / refresh post. So, much like a remote gas station there's got to be enough traffic (consumer demand) to make it economically viable to keep sending out tankers and paying staff.

    Then (going a bit off-topic here) I started wondering how come we have several Antarctic bases, but no (well-known at least) Saharan desert bases, not to mention Arctic bases. Is it just that the Sahara and the Arctic are relatively more accessible, so you don't really need a 'base'? Or is it because the Antarctic is more economically-significant with respect to untapped natural resources - or is it scientifically more valuable (though sadly I'm struggling to believe this latter issue is the primary motive)?

    So my question is whether Deep Space 9 is just a remote gas station or is its existence justified in being an extreme 'base' - i.e. a human/technological presence in a distant and inhospitable region of deep space. (Or is it just a fictional entity built near a fictional wormhole that is seldom used for any effective purpose in the TV series).

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheap Astronomy View Post
    I'm writing up something around the economics of a deep space station (like ST Deep Space 9) and thinking that its viability depends on regular supplies, even though its role is as a supplier itself, with respect to being a refuelling / refresh post. So, much like a remote gas station there's got to be enough traffic (consumer demand) to make it economically viable to keep sending out tankers and paying staff.

    Then (going a bit off-topic here) I started wondering how come we have several Antarctic bases, but no (well-known at least) Saharan desert bases, not to mention Arctic bases. Is it just that the Sahara and the Arctic are relatively more accessible, so you don't really need a 'base'? Or is it because the Antarctic is more economically-significant with respect to untapped natural resources - or is it scientifically more valuable (though sadly I'm struggling to believe this latter issue is the primary motive)?

    So my question is whether Deep Space 9 is just a remote gas station or is its existence justified in being an extreme 'base' - i.e. a human/technological presence in a distant and inhospitable region of deep space. (Or is it just a fictional entity built near a fictional wormhole that is seldom used for any effective purpose in the TV series).

    Thanks
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._in_the_Arctic

  3. #3
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    I sit corrected - thanks

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheap Astronomy View Post
    I sit corrected - thanks
    I think itís a good question though.

    The Sahara is a good question. Itís a bit different from the others. You can drive a vehicle or helicopter into the Sahara at any time of the year if you want to do a study, so there is no real need for a base.

    For the Antarctic, I think you are really thinking of the South Pole base rather than stations on the edge of the continent. That is a situation where airplanes cannot access it during parts of the year.
    As above, so below

  5. #5
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    I think the scientists from several countries who endure the Antarctic would object to the idea that it is easy to get to, or justified by future exploitation. it is reserved at the moment for science. Unfortunately there are worries about that now, but for the moment good and valuable science is the reason for the bases. Science tourism is also a big feature and is , it seems, part of the space idea too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I think the scientists from several countries who endure the Antarctic would object to the idea that it is easy to get to, or justified by future exploitation. it is reserved at the moment for science. Unfortunately there are worries about that now, but for the moment good and valuable science is the reason for the bases. Science tourism is also a big feature and is , it seems, part of the space idea too.
    I agree with both points, but I don't think that anyone suggested that it is easy to get to Antarctica. Rather, I think the OP was asking whether it might be that we have fewer bases in the Sahara and the Arctic because they are easier to get to compared to the very inaccessible Antarctic. And yes, with regard to resources, I don't think it's because of the need for resources that we have bases in Antarctica.

    Perhaps one reason (as I wrote earlier) is that in the Sahara, actually there are people living in it or very close, so if you want to do research there you don't necessarily need a special base. And it may be that in the Arctic, because it is just islands rather than a continent, there is less to study geologically and stuff like that.
    As above, so below

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    And also, it may well be that just as much (or more) research is done in the Sahara and the Arctic, but because they are more accessible, it is less famous.
    As above, so below

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheap Astronomy View Post
    I'm writing up something around the economics of a deep space station (like ST Deep Space 9) and thinking that its viability depends on regular supplies, even though its role is as a supplier itself, with respect to being a refuelling / refresh post. So, much like a remote gas station there's got to be enough traffic (consumer demand) to make it economically viable to keep sending out tankers and paying staff.

    Then (going a bit off-topic here) I started wondering how come we have several Antarctic bases, but no (well-known at least) Saharan desert bases, not to mention Arctic bases. Is it just that the Sahara and the Arctic are relatively more accessible, so you don't really need a 'base'? Or is it because the Antarctic is more economically-significant with respect to untapped natural resources - or is it scientifically more valuable (though sadly I'm struggling to believe this latter issue is the primary motive)?

    So my question is whether Deep Space 9 is just a remote gas station or is its existence justified in being an extreme 'base' - i.e. a human/technological presence in a distant and inhospitable region of deep space. (Or is it just a fictional entity built near a fictional wormhole that is seldom used for any effective purpose in the TV series).

    Thanks
    Well, in Star Trek the station has "replicators", and a habitable world like Earth nearby. I don't know that regular supply shipments are necessary to support the station.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Is there some parallel with setting up the base camp for climbing Mt Everest?
    Forming opinions as we speak

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheap Astronomy View Post

    So my question is whether Deep Space 9 is just a remote gas station or is its existence justified in being an extreme 'base' - i.e. a human/technological presence in a distant and inhospitable region of deep space. (Or is it just a fictional entity built near a fictional wormhole that is seldom used for any effective purpose in the TV series).
    I'll just add, in the first episode of the show it's established that there were political and military reasons for taking over a repurposed facility in that location (not building a new base), even though the wormhole was not then known to exist. It was originally supposed to be an unimportant outpost to aid and influence the rebuilding Bajor to join the Federation, and an "early warning" site to monitor the fringes of hostile Cardassian space. Then they discovered the Wormhole and suddenly DS9 became pivotal.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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