Saturday 9 December 2023

The Lofstrom Loop: A Bridge to Space

Imagine you could take a train ride to space. Tracks that slope up into the sky, higher and higher, until you reach a plateau above the planet where it’s a straight line up to orbital velocity.

That’s what’s possible with a Lofstrom Loop. But sending you into orbit is just one of the things it can do!

Friday 26 May 2023

Riding Sunbeams with Solar Sails

Reset your expectations of solar sails. They are a fast and free way to travel to any point in the Solar System, as many times as you want, any time of the year.

Solar sails can carry passengers and they have a nearly unlimited number of uses. You just have to... think big!

Monday 10 October 2022

Hypervelocity Tether Rockets

Rotating tethers can reach incredible velocities when they are built out of high strength materials. With some design features, they can greatly surpass the exhaust velocities of chemical or even nuclear rockets. They can become propulsion systems with impressive performance... and might look like the classic 'saucer' spaceship.

How would they work? What performance could they achieve?

Friday 25 March 2022

Fusion without Fissiles: Superbombs and Wilderness Orion

Fusion technology today relies on expensive, building-sized equipment for ignition, or the help of an already powerful fission detonation. What if we could do away with both?

Fusion power without the need for fissiles, but also small enough to be launched into space. It is possible, and eventually it will be practical. Let’s look at how that would work and its implications. 

Thursday 14 October 2021

Nuclear Conversion for Starship

There has been much discussion about converting the SpaceX Starship to use nuclear propulsion. It would allow for a great increase in specific impulse and a massive extension of mission capabilities.

But is it actually worthwhile?

Thursday 11 March 2021

Fusion Highways in Space

A transport system that can get spacecraft to Jupiter in 10 days, but without a massive onboard reactor, using antimatter fuel or riding a gigantic laser beam? 

What we need instead is a Fusion Highway to connect the Solar System in unprecedented ways. 

Monday 4 January 2021

Moto-Orion: Mechanized Nuclear Pulse Propulsion

The Orion nuclear pulse propulsion concept has been around for over six decades now. It is powerful and robust, but lacks the flexibility and features we expect from many more modern designs.

Can we give it those additional capabilities?

Monday 16 November 2020

Nuclear Photon Rockets: Flashlights to the Stars

In this post, we will have a look at the concept of using a nuclear photon rocket for interstellar travel. They are an old concept that should theoretically be the ultimate form of relativistic propulsion.
However, today they are unknown or unpopular. Why might that be the case?

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Space Tethers: Stringing up the Solar System

All the methods we have used to reach space so far have been subject to the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation - propellant must be ejected and more and more of it is needed to go further.

What if we could break that equation with rotating orbital tethers?

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Hypervelocity Macron Accelerators

We look at the various ways of accelerating micro-scale projectiles up to hypervelocity (10-10,000 km/s) and their use in space.