Rocket Are Not the Best Method to Travel into Space
Rockets are NOT the only way to get into space. However, traditional rockets are the common item people imagine when they think of space travel. Rockets have been ingrained in our psyche as “the” method to get into space since the early days of science fiction.
Our current use of rockets to get into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) are simply elaborate enhancements to one of the first successful rockets, the Nazi V-2, which was used to rain havoc on London during WW2. It is time we look at other methods beyond rockets to get into LEO. In fact, the same team that designed the V-2 had major roles in designing the Apollo rocket system.
“What if” we consider and examine all methods to get into LEO? Would we still select traditional rockets to get into space? Has science and technology advanced enough since we selected rockets in the 1950s to allow us a better choice than rockets today?
We owe it to our future to reexamine the choices made in the past and to determine if a new, more practical solution is possible. Let’s rethink space travel and rocketry.
When reviewing early space program design decisions, it quickly becomes obvious that technical merit had little to do with the course we chose. Better and more efficient solutions were proposed and successfully tested in the 1950s and 1960s. However, influences other than economics shaped our decisions in that era.
The decisions shaping our space program, made during the Cold War era, had more to do with proving to the Russians that our rockets were reliable rather than being efficient. Building a more elegant technical solution or a less expensive solution was not a goal.
The economics of space launch systems were not of any concern. We must realize that our 1960 space program was an extension of our ICBM programs. The goal was to prove to the Russians that our rockets could reliably destroy Russian military targets within 25 minutes. Speed to target was a major criterion while the cost of the rocket was inconsequential. It didn’t matter how much the rocket cost if it prevented a Russian nuclear bomb from reaching the U.S. The major goal was to demonstrate our space capabilities and thus convince the Russians that attacking us would result in their own destruction.
The design decisions shaping the U.S. space program scarcely considered making the program practical, economical or low-cost. Why do we continue to make only small incremental improvements to a fundamentally non-practical launch system?
“What if” we redesigned our space launch vehicles with the goal of making them practical, economical and low-cost?
The book “What If We Made Space Travel Practical?” describes other propulsion systems that are more practical and cost effective than traditional rockets.
We must reach beyond our current dependence on Russian space rockets and beyond the bureaucratic limitations realized in NASA’s space rockets. We must switch our dependence to commercial (private) space flight endeavors that are capable of embracing new concepts that can leapfrog us to new efficiencies and low cost space travel. SpaceX and Elon Musk has done an excellent job proving that private industry can design and build rockets far less expensively than a NASA administered project. Sir Richard Branson with his company, Virgin Galactic along with Burt Rutan with his company, Scaled Composites together has proven than reasonable price sub-orbital space tourism is possible if you are willing to embrace new concepts.
Now it is time to reach further, to leapfrog space development, to where rockets are largely replace with a more efficient and much more affordable technology.
The book “What If We Made Space Travel Practical?” describes a more efficient propulsion technology that could largely replace rockets in the future. The purpose of this site is not to raise money or form a company. The purpose is to start a discussion about what is possible and practical.