Carl Sagan wrote, “We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” But how will humans or our machine representatives fly to the stars? [more inside]
Ted Taylor, physicist, nuclear scientist, and designer of the deceptively tiny Davy Crockett nuclear recoilless rifle, is not quite as famous as one of his other projects: nuclear spacecraft propulsion. Project Orion was intended as an interplanetary (and eventually interstellar) vehicle which could achieve Earth orbit with a series of 800 nuclear explosions, each detonated about a second after the other below the spacecraft. It would propel itself through space in a similar fashion, carrying many orders of magnitude more mass than chemical rockets such as the Saturn which would ultimately take men to the moon. Taylor and others intended a mission to Mars by 1965, but the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 destroyed all hope to see Orion take flight. For the interested, "The Curve of Binding Energy" goes into much more detail, including the U.S. Air Force's plan to turn Orion into a nuclear space battleship (!). A youtube video of an Orion concept test using conventional explosives is here (flight footage begins around 0:23).
A Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics, a web-based textbook brought to you by the folks at NASA. [more inside]
Hyperdrive and a possible Unified Theory. New Scientist article about a paper and proposal to NASA outlining development parameters and possiblities for a faster-than-light anti-gravity propulsion system, based on some rather interesting physics theories originated by a guy named Heim. You mean you've never heard of the Millenium Falcon? (via)
Cosmos 1 is officially lost! However, fellow solar sailors, it's not too late to buy a t-shirt. I, however, can't help but focus my attention on this educational BBC News article; I believe I'm having some sort of pavlovian response to that last diagram, but thankfully it seems I'm not the first solar sailing pervert out there.