Advanced Rocketry

Space Habitats Beyond LEO: A Short Step Towards the Stars

January 8, 2016

Building a space infrastructure is doubtless a prerequisite for interstellar flight. But the questions we need to answer in the near-term are vital. Even to get to Mars, we subject our astronauts to radiation and prolonged weightlessness. For that matter, can humans live in Mars’ light gravity long enough to build sustainable colonies without suffering […]

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Unusual Orbits for Unusual Missions

October 5, 2015

Our choice of orbits can create scientifically useful space missions that can be operated at lower cost than their more conventional counterparts. How this has been done and the kind of missions it could enable in the future is the subject of James Jason Wentworth’s essay. An amateur astronomer and interstellar travel enthusiast, Wentworth worked […]

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Ernst Stuhlinger: Ion Propulsion to Mars

July 21, 2015

If you’re a Centauri Dreams regular, you’re familiar with Adam Crowl, an Australian polymath who is deeply involved in the ongoing Project Icarus starship design study. Adam maintains a blog called Crowlspace where interesting and innovative ideas emerge, some of them related to earlier work that has been largely forgotten in our era. A recent […]

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The Spacecoach Equation

July 3, 2015

My view is that the spacecoach, the subject of renewed discussion below by Brian McConnell and a design he and Alex Tolley have created, is the most innovative and downright practical idea for getting crews and large payloads to the planets that I’ve yet encountered. It’s low-cost and uses ordinary consumables as propellant, dramatically revising […]

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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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