Advanced Rocketry

Spacecoach on the Stage

May 18, 2015

I’m glad to see that Brian McConnell will be speaking at the International Space Development Conference in Toronto this week. McConnell, you’ll recall, has been working with Centauri Dreams regular Alex Tolley on a model the duo call ‘Spacecoach.’ It’s a crewed spacecraft using solar electric propulsion, one built around the idea of water as […]

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A Stagecoach to the Stars

May 1, 2015

Imagine the kind of spaceship we’ll need as we begin to expand the human presence into the nearby Solar System. We’d like something completely reusable, a vessel able to carry people in relative comfort everywhere from Mars to Venus, and perhaps as far out as the asteroid belt, where tempting Ceres awaits. Capable of refueling […]

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Spaceward Ho!

January 9, 2015

How do you go about creating a straightforward, highly durable design for a spacecraft, one that is readily refuelable and offers manifest advantages for crew comfort and safety? Alex Tolley and Brian McConnell have been asking that question for some time now, coming up with an ingenious solution that could open up large swathes of […]

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Pondering Interstellar Propulsion Strategies

October 7, 2014

Back in 1950, George Pal produced Destination Moon, a movie that was based (extremely loosely) on Robert Heinlein’s Rocketship Galileo. Under the direction of Irving Pichel, the film explained the basics of a journey to the Moon — using among other things an animated science lesson — to a world becoming intrigued with space travel. […]

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Remembering ‘Saturn by 1970′

April 14, 2014

One day in the late summer of 1958, at a time when the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was still in the hands of the U.S. Army (the transfer to NASA wouldn’t happen until the end of that year), Freeman Dyson and Ted Taylor showed up at the facility outside Pasadena. Try to imagine the scene: At […]

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The Enzmann Solution

May 16, 2013

Yesterday I remarked on how many more tools for exoplanet discovery we have today than were available to Harry Stine when he wrote “A Program for Star Flight” in 1973. That same day came the disheartening news that the Kepler mission has been stopped in its tracks by an equipment malfunction. But take heart — […]

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The Nuclear Rocket Option

January 14, 2013

Tim Folger and Les Johnson (NASA MSFC) stood last summer in front of a nuclear rocket at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Johnson’s work in advanced propulsion concepts is well known to Centauri Dreams readers, but what he was talking to Folger about in an article for National Geographic was an older technology. […]

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ASPW 2012: A Report from Huntsville

December 4, 2012

Richard Obousy, a familiar face on Centauri Dreams, is president and primary propulsion senior scientist for Icarus Interstellar, whose portfolio includes Project Icarus, the redesign of the Project Daedalus starship. Dr. Obousy is just back from the latest Advanced Space Propulsion Workshop and, as he did for the 2010 ASPW, he now offers his take […]

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Skylon: Promising Tests of the SABRE Engine

December 3, 2012

The news from Reaction Engines Ltd. about its air-breathing rocket engine SABRE is interesting not only for its implications in near-term space development, but also for its pedigree. Reaction Engines grew out of British work on a single-stage-to-orbit concept called HOTOL ((Horizontal Take-Off and Landing) that was being developed by Rolls Royce and British Aerospace […]

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More on the Starship ‘Slingshot’ Maneuver

November 20, 2012

Although we ordinarily think of Stanislaw Ulam in connection with pulse propulsion — and in particular with the Orion concept, in which nuclear devices are exploded behind the spacecraft — the scientist was also investigating other propulsion ideas. It puts yesterday’s discussion of Freeman Dyson’s ‘gravitational machines’ into context to realize that Ulam was writing […]

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