In the future, high-energy particle research facilities may one day yield a very high-energy propulsion system that will take us to the nearby stars, or even beyond. Space is not quiet: it is a continuous series of nuclear explosions that provide the material for new star systems to form and provide the challenge to explore. This book provides an assessment of the industrial capability required to construct and operate the necessary spacecraft. Time and distance communication and control limitations impose robotic constraints. Space environments restrict human sustained presence and put high demands on electronic, control and materials systems.
This comprehensive and authoritative book puts spacecraft propulsion systems in perspective, from earth orbit launchers to astronomical/space exploration vehicles. It includes new material on fusion propulsion, new figures and updates and expands the information given in the first edition.
A spacecraft that is comprised mostly of water will be much more like a living cell or a terrarium than a conventional rocket and capsule design. It will use water for many purposes before it is superheated in electric engines for propulsion, purposes which include radiation shielding, heat management, basic life support, crew consumption and comfort. The authors coined the term "spacecoaches" to describe them, as an allusion to the Prairie Schooners of the Old West, which were simple, rugged, and could live off the land.
In order to reach the nearest stars, we must first develop a propulsion technology that would take our robotic probes there in a reasonable time. Such propulsion technology has radically different requirements from conventional chemical rockets, because of the enormous distances that must be crossed. Surprisingly, many propulsion schemes for interstellar travel have been suggested and await only practical engineering solutions and the political will to make them a reality. This is a result of the tremendous advances in astrophysics that have been made in recent decades and the perseverance and imagination of tenacious theoretical physicists. This book explores these different propulsion schemes – all based on current physics – and the challenges they present to physicists, engineers, and space exploration entrepreneurs.
This book will be helpful to anyone who really wants to understand the principles behind and likely future course of interstellar travel and who wants to recognizes the distinctions between pure fantasy (such as Star Trek’s ‘warp drive’) and methods that are grounded in real physics and offer practical technological solutions for exploring the stars in the decades to come.
The 3rd edition will stick to the same principle of providing a serious exposition of the principles and practice of rocket propulsion, but from the point of view of the user and enquirer who is not an engineering specialist. Most chapters will remain substantially the same as the second edition; they will be updated where necessary and errata corrected. In particular the new chapters added for the second edition, on Electric and Nuclear propulsion will remain substantially the same.
In addition to general revision, updating and the correction of errata on all chapters, this updated edition will detail a number of new developments in the field Chapter 3 on Liquid propellant rocket engines will have new sections on air breathing engines and on new engines and propellants for the human exploration program. Chapter 8 will now de-emphasize the SSTO concepts, not longer seen as promising, and include new sections on variable thrust engines, again for human exploration. Other new developments following the announcement and subsequent development of NASA’s new man-rated launcher, the ARES, and its Constellation vehicle set. Also covered will be sub-orbital space tourist vehicles and the new rocket engines, which have been developed for them. A new chapter on man-rated launchers and their important characteristics will detail this. New interest in Lunar exploration and the need to supply Lunar bases exposes the requirement for high efficiency engines for Lunar transportation and storage of high energy propellants like liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. New engines designed for in-space transportation and Lunar landing and departure will be added to the relevant chapters.
For any human mission to the Red Planet the possible utilization of any resources indigenous to Mars would be of great value and such possibilities are discussed in Chapter 5. The use of indigenous resources on the Moon is described as a precursor to the availability of similar resources on Mars and issues such as fuelling Mars-bound craft from lunar resources, the use of lunar ferries, staging, assembly and refueling in near-Earth space are all discussed. The important applications arising from the transportation of hydrogen to Mars are also described. Chapter 6 deals with a range of previous Mars mission studies and the technologies they employed. Chapter 7 looks as how NASA is planning for its return to the Moon, and the use of the Moon as a stepping stone to Mars. Chapter 8 presents the author’s detailed analysis of why, in his opinion, the current NASA approach will fail to send humans to Mars before 2080. The book concludes with three appendices describing the use of solar energy on the Moon and on Mars and the value of indigenous water on Mars.