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In the world I've been writing, the population has the ability to access other planets, by going through the dimension/plane known as 'the Warp'.

However, these people are, for the most part, fairly advanced technologically. This has led to them coming up with ways to launch satellites and long range missiles. My question is, how would these cultures be motivated to explore space in depth, such as with rovers or astronauts, instead of just sticking to existing magical ways of reaching other planets.

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  • $\begingroup$ Be motivated - clearly by problems to which technology is a solution and to which they do not have magical solutions. And it depends on how scalable magic is - are they all magicians or it just portion of people, are they able to produce magical robots and how scalable is such production, how energy efficient it is - can they as, an example, make K2 level(star system) magical system which collects and uses energy of the system or they can not. You didn't provide descriotions which help to make some guestimations - you need characterize capabilities of magic and technology, by that you get u A $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 13, 2021 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ You need to define limits on what this magical Warp can do. People would need the technology to go beyond those limits. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Sep 13, 2021 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ You need some compelling astronomy/astrophysics problem. Something that can't be accessed simply by teleporting to the surface of a body. Perhaps the one thing that has no true surface, black holes. Spaceships might approach to some safe distance (and teleporting even lets you get close to them rather than having to rocket from the homeworld). A pure science project maybe? $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Sep 13, 2021 at 21:08

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My question is, how would these cultures be motivated to explore space in depth, such as with rovers or astronauts, instead of just sticking to existing magical ways of reaching other planets.

Magical travel between worlds doesn't preclude space exploration and science... on the contrary, it makes them hugely easier.

People are curious, and are interested in things. Someone is eventually going to work out how to bamf something onto the moon and get it back again, and from there they can start working out how to build vacuum-safe pressure hulls and maybe even spacesuits. Victorian-era space programs could exist! Building autonomous rovers for really hostile environments like Venus or Jupiter would require much more sophistication, but simple landers could be deployed and retrieved much earlier than their real-world equivalents.

This has led to them coming up with ways to launch satellites and long range missiles.

I'm not sure why you'd launch missiles when you can just bamf a warhead into your enemy's hot tub when they least expect it, but lets just handwave that one away for the moment.

What your people almost certainly won't have is the kind of crazy huge expensive complex dangerous heavy rocketry that we have on Earth. Earth has a thick atmosphere and a deep gravity well. It is a terrible place to launch rockets from. Just bamf up to your moonbase, and launch from there... reaching orbital velocities is almost child's play. Hell, once you've discovered Ceres and visited it in perso, you might even be able to launch with gunpowder rocketry alone. Rockets will be much smaller and much cheaper and simpler as a result... monstrosities like the Saturn V or Starship probably wouldn't be considered for a moment, because what would be the point?

The artificial satellites orbiting any inhabited world would almost certainly be launched from any natural satellites of that world, because the control issues associated with injecting unmanned things into desired orbits are easier to solve than launching stuff from Earth.

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    $\begingroup$ Exploring Venus would be a hell of a lot easier (no pun intended). Part of the problem is that any lander needs enough protection to survive a little while still being light enough to fly and land there. If you can drive there, or just teleport an immobile structure, things become immensely easier. Pressure-wise, at the equivalent of about 1000 meters underwater, humans were going that deep in the 1930s. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2021 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ You might be able to get a projectile off of Ceres and out of orbit around it just with gunpowder. But it will take a lot more to modify its orbit around the sun to hit Earth, and it would take years to make the trip. And to actually hit a particular location on Earth? We can't do that now without multiple course corrections along the way. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2021 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for answering! I should clarify that the Warp is less teleportation, and more like the main lobby of the 12 Worlds, where ships, sea faring or airborne, but never land vehcles can travel into and out of to get any of the other 11 worlds.Teleportation is expensive and liable to explode violently in the setting, unless done by an expert, so spce travel only works from an already inhabited planets surface. $\endgroup$
    – Archmagos
    Sep 14, 2021 at 9:38
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There is no point in venturing into the empty of space for reaching a planet where you can conveniently "jump".

There is still a point in going into space for investigating thing which you can't physically access, like any star, gas giants and other bodies which would end your life pretty quickly.

In our solar system, that would mean pretty much any body other than Earth would need to be space explored the old way, because no street dressed human would survive there.

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  • $\begingroup$ Of course this is if there is no access to spacesuits, and if you cannot send cargo through warp. If those are possible, then all you need to do is develop a sufficiently advanced spacesuit. Probes might be more tricky - like if you want a solar probe orbiting the sun - I'd imagine using warp wouldn't give it an orbit. In that case you could warp the cargo to Mercury and then traditionally launch it off the planet. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2021 at 17:14
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There wouldn't be any reason to actual travel through space, though exploration for the sake of curiosity / science would happen.

I've actually developed a roleplaying game which is SciFi but also has technology to go straight from planet to planet (think "Stargate"). When you think it through, there's no reason to ever travel through the vast, hostile space if you don't have to. There's vacuum, radiation, micro-meteorites and all other sorties of nasties that can ruin your day. And then you're going to spend years there instead of a few seconds or minutes through your teleportation or whatever.

Almost everything you can find in space can also be found on this or that planet. Some exotic things are exceptions, but unless your world has a MacGuffin that can only be found in space, the costs probably rule it out.

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Magic does not provide a map.

You can find some places by magic because magic can feel them. But it does not give an idea of the precise location and it does not show a lot of places. Physical travel is the only way to get an overall view with a precise mapping and a complete knowledge.

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    $\begingroup$ While I don't disagree with you (this is an issue among some peoples in my own world), what you've got here seems to be either a comment or a seriously underdeveloped response. You bring up a good point, but can you expand upon it so that it addresses the OP's how question? In other words, how would knowing that you don't have a map play into space exploration? Or even, do they even recognise that they don't have a map? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Sep 13, 2021 at 12:17
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To me this appears to be more of a magic design problem, not a problem of the physics and engineering involved in space exploration. If this magic system is advanced to the point that I can go through this warp in a sufficiently advanced spacesuit, or send any amount of cargo I want, then space exploration via traditional methods is rather a waste. Perhaps you might need to still send probes out to actually see where you're going first, but other than that you'd still want to use warp.

One option I see is that this warp technology has been discovered relatively recently. That would explain why they have existing space infrastructure. For a look at this kind of world, I recommend the sci fi story "One step from earth" - it is an episodic story looking at how civilization develops following the discovery of instant travel - just send a portal to Mars on a robotic probe, and then you can immediately send astronauts there.

If you want this civilization to use traditional space travel still alongside warp, you're going to need limitations on your magic system, or really good benefits for space travel. Maybe warp imposes really awful relativistic effects on the user, and only a select group of people have chosen to endure this.

Maybe warp is painful. Maybe it requires more energy than is needed for normal space travel - which I think would be the most realistic limitation.

Whatever you choose, I reiterate that I don't believe this is a physics problem with launch capability off of planets, propulsion types, etc, but something more with how powerful your magic system is.

If I have the ability to create unlimited quantities of food, there's no reason to farm anything is there - unless the food I create is technically consumable, but tastes really gross and just keeps you alive. Then humans will still grow food any way because we prefer the taste.

I wish you luck on your work.

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The Warp Sucks.

It hurts. And it smells. Then you smell, and not for a little while. It is full of dangerous things that want to do stuff to you or beg from you or hang off of your clothes or eat little bits of you. The warp makes your teeth ache and later when your teeth ache you can smell that smell again and feel where that thing ate a little bit of you. The warp sucks.

The people who invented the satellites and missiles did not have magic. They are cool folks that your people discovered on another world. They are funny and sharp and generous and sexy and in addition to tech they make good music. Their tech is super sweet and your people turn out be pretty gifted at improving the stuff these cool people invented which impresses the cool people too. Your people now try to do things like the cool people do, because their way is just a better way than the crappy, crappy, crappy Warp.

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I imagine it'd be about the same way sailing ships came to be in this universe; what's the point of a boat when you can just teleport your whole army across the sea to your enemy? Well, it's a giant wooden sea-beast armed to the teeth with guns that shoot giant solid iron rocks, some of which explode. Combined with magic it's the penultimate weapon of destruction. In space, it could serve about the same purpose. Nobody's going to carry the planet destroying laser into combat. Might as well jury-rig it onto the giant battleship and just teleport that over.

Outside of warfare, it's a lot more convenient. Why precariously teleport onto alien worlds, with all their unpredictable hazards, when you could just sit in your super cool spaceship and scan them from a safe distance? Your spacesuit, evin if magical, stands no chance against things like the poisoned air and 500° greenhouse effect of Venus, or the melting surface and lethal solar radiation of Mercury. That's a lot of wards to worry about. Sounds exhausting and far too risky. I'd send a rover at least as an expeditionary first. Sea exploration may have also been the result of a similar philosophy in this universe; why risk coming face-to-face with barbarians in the strange lands across the sea when you can just cautiously wave to the shore from the safe distance provided by your four-floors tall giant wooden ball of cannons?

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  • $\begingroup$ Also, as an afterthought, maybe your magic users have their abilities enhanced by special robes or other artifacts that make the scene of battle far too precarious for them to directly engage. Having them casting their spells from a safe distance on a ship hovering above the scene of battle or even so far as in orbit could be a life-saver for them. $\endgroup$
    – INPU
    Sep 14, 2021 at 6:23
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Magic requires rare materials

Solid portals require huge amounts of gold and silver and other rare metals and materials. These are extremely expensive to mine on planets. As such, it makes logical sense to build space empires on each planet to get accessible rarer elements from meteors and comets and smaller planets.

Magic requires people.

You need people at both ends to set up a portal. This is fine for some planets as they've evolved life, but a lot of stellar planets and asteroids and such haven't evolved life, or not advanced enough life to build a portal after you astral project your way there and possess a local to tell them to build stuff.

As such, if you wanna reach space you need a space program.

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