Notes on Engineering Goals of Starship Designers

Dr. Enzmann – ca 1970s

Faster than light speeds are in no way mysteriously precluded by “Einstein’s alleged equations,” the entire content of so-called special relativity is the so-called Lorentz equations.

The distinctiveness of starship travel:

1. Perception that it is possible, such as was with flying, radio, water pipes, and telegraph.

2. ISP specific impulse demand fission, fusion, or devolution of matter and the conversion of these energies into momentum

3. Either a long trip on a slow boat or a long passage on a fast ship. There is no escape. Starflight is unique in that, unlike travel across the Earth (which in the writer’s time shortened from six weeks to cross overland from Manchuria to Poland on a very pleasant train, to hours on a jet) travel cannot be equaled for travelers between stars. Starflight is extraordinarily unique in that: time for the traveler can be shortened. This is the nature of the long-passage.

The possibility of (FTL) faster than light ships would end both long trips and long passages.

4. Self-sufficiency and true independence, not just ideally but quite necessarily, must be attained. If this is not so a ship might reach its destination only to be marooned for generations.

5. Motivation to go: Profits – commercial, information, entertainment. Power – possibility of a nation being itself, developing itself, throwing off shackles of superpowers, of international organizations. Freedom – of religion, of regulation of all aspects of life, to be an ethnic group, to develop science. Adventure – self-explanatory.  Immortality – of the long-passage travelers.


1. Political hostility of those in power. Contending strongly for power. Planning confidently to gain power over other people.

2. Hostility toward gains in wealth, in education, in access to utilities of all middle and lower classes.

3. Ignorance of possibility or feasibility of profits. Credibility in non-existent hazards and costs. That a spectrum of options exists when it does not.


1. Long trips from the solar system are possible with a combination of chemical fuels. Gravity sling, and gradient boost. Velocities of about 1000 or even more per second can be imagined costing a traveler about 180 years per light-year traversed.

2. Abbreviated long trips and perhaps even long passages could be accomplished with fixed first-stage propulsion. The concept of driving interstellar sailing ships with lasers as considered by Philip Norem (1969)  and Robert Forward as either the primary method of propulsion or an auxiliary means of propulsion.

3. Long passage departures from the solar system with technology that exists or can very reasonably be expected to be available in the immediate future must rely on fission, fission-fusion, and fusion power. An unmanned interstellar probe could have been built and launched in the 1970s. I have the rankling personal impression that all such work was stopped, all media coverage ended or turned deceptively negative, and all engineering enthusiasts were driven out of the profession by massive opposition coming from “liberal” academicians, the “liberal” media, “liberal” politicians, “liberal” sources, “siphoning” of funds, and “liberal” activists leading street mobs.

4. Acceleration with and without stress by G-force. Acceleration out of a gravity well. Acceleration against the inertial continuum: how much force should be endured by the body? Can a person be placed in a liquid-filled suit? Can his lungs be filled with liquid? Even cells have their limits; at 100,000 G, components of cells – RNA, ribosomes, mitochondria, etc.- separate. Suppose the cells were rotated in a 100,000 G centrifuge; that would be equivalent to an acceleration of 3,200,000 ft/sec, or about 640 miles/sec, which, if applied linearly, would bring a particle to the velocity of light in an hour. Gravitational slings may be used to accelerate or decelerate masses.

Gradient boost, I believe first considered by Hermann Oberth of Transylvania ca 1925, makes it possible to exploit the divergence of the solar gravitational field by developing an approach, then a recessional hyperbolic path relative to the sun. The physics of the maneuver is quite subtle and as difficult to grasp as the Newtonian principle of action-reaction (usually appreciated only as an incantation).

Warping of space to accelerate masses is mentioned by powers, Robert M 1981 “The Coattails of God – the Ultimate Spaceflight – the trip to the Stars” (Pub. Warner Books. He only mentions it, he does not advocate it.) I consider talk of warping space, and the frantically relativistic algebras purporting to derive the Lorentz equations (written by Voigt years earlier) as patent nonsense. I offer my trivially simple derivation which treats the temporal effects as a consequence of aberration. I intuitively suspect it was known the to Greeks ca 400 BC, for they talk “that way”.

“Stargates” in a star cluster especially one with white dwarf stars, and most wonderfully where small dense stars are in close orbits with one another. Extraordinary accelerations are possible in very short times: this is accomplished by using combine sling accelerations and at the same time gradient accelerations. This might, for example, make it possible to conduct trade and organize migrations between globular clusters.

Liquid-filled space suites, including a filling of the occupants’ lungs with oxygen-rich “artificial blood,” could make it possible for humans to endure the force for many days. At 10 G, near light speeds can be reached in about a month. At 100 G, near light speeds can be reached in about 4 days.

Faster than light speeds are in no way mysteriously precluded by “Einstein’s alleged equations,”  the entire content of so-called special relativity is the so-called Lorentz equations. It is about time that someone spoke out concerning relativity.  One gains the impression that Einstein was much abused for his views Nothing could be further from the truth. He received support in the form of a tidal wave of publicity, and that publicity has never ceased to flow.


Stark Draper, my guest at the N. Y. A., considered guidance of interstellar ships. Dr. Taylor and others considered the Orion vehicle. It is very interesting to consider the ambiguous results of the experiment suggested by Maxwell then performed by Michelson and Morley. One diagram suggests that the results are ambiguous because Aberration and beam-topple cancel the geometric effect. While the time effect is canceled by the Voigt-Lorentz description of aberration. Doppler of approach cancels Doppler of recession.