Advanced Rocketry

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. […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 — […]

Read the full article →

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. […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

Conceiving the Laser-Fusion Starship

November 16, 2012

When young Rod Hyde, fresh out of MIT, started working on starship design in mid-1972, there were not many fusion-based precedents for what he was up to. He had taken a summer job that would turn into a career at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, but right off the bat he was involved with Lowell Wood […]

Read the full article →

Al Jackson: A Laser Ramjet Reminiscence

July 26, 2012

by A. A. Jackson It’s always good when you can go to the source, which I am delighted to do with this reminiscence by Al Jackson, whose laser-powered ramjet (and laser-powered interstellar rocket) ideas we’ve been looking at for the past few days. Al recalls discovering the work of Eugen Sänger back around 1960 and […]

Read the full article →

Rocketry on a Beam of Light

July 25, 2012

The year after Al Jackson, working with Daniel Whitmire, published his concept of a laser-powered interstellar ramjet, the duo returned in the pages of JBIS with a spinoff design. The issue was obvious: Central to Robert Bussard’s ramjet design was the idea that the spacecraft would carry no fuel, but collect reaction mass from the […]

Read the full article →