There are not just reasons, but urgent reasons for building unmanned interstellar probes and manned starships in the immediate future. The reason for urbanizing the solar system and concurrently opening a new age of exploration and discovery are as urgent as were the reasons for digging individual wells in urban areas, installing water and sewage pipes, building railways, installing urban and rural electrification, and producing antiseptics and anesthesia for hospitals.
Many people who are alive today will be aboard starships launched out on the long passages to neighboring stars. Manned starships are a certainty in the very near future. In this article, the inevitability of humankind soon voyaging to the stars is considered along with a discussion of space technology and politics, of historic forces compelling us to star flight, and most importantly methods of starship propulsion. Two starship engines are discussed: the first is a relatively inexpensive, high mass-ratio nuclear pulse engine that uses very expensive fuel. This engine has been available since 1956. The second, the Lorentzian beam engine, is a moderately expensive, exceedingly low mass-ratio that uses fuel so cheap that production cost is insignificant. With Lorentzian beam-propulsion, starship designs can, for the first time, escape from the ‘tyrannical mass-ratio’ of 1000 tons of fuel plus reaction mass being required for each ton of ship and each ton of cargo. For example, a 10,000 ton ship (plus payload) driven by nuclear pulse propulsion would require 10,000,000 tons of fuel, plus reaction exhaust mass. A 10,000-ton ship (plus payload) driven by the Lorentzian beam engine could manage with somewhere between 50,000 to as low as 10,000 tons of fuel plus reaction mass, and in theory, even lower mass-ratios are quite feasible.
It is explained herein how and why mankind has, to date, gained $20 for each $1 invested in space efforts within the Solar system. The 20-to-1 gains are inflation-adjusted and interested-adjusted profits. It is explained why profits from interstellar expeditions will return profit multiples of at least $10,000 dollars returned for each $1 spent on initial design, development, and first launches. What is really being said is:
“The gains which may be expected from interstellar exploration, colonization, and research are so great that they are really only comparable with revolutions such as mankind’s use of artificial shelter, clothing, fire, the wheel, and fusion energy.”
Even this comparison may be inappropriate; mankind’s colonization of interstellar space is better compared with the emergence of life from the waters of the Earth’s oceans to colonize the waterless expanses of the continents. Where would we be if all life forms had waited until the social and ecological problems of the oceans were solved before they despoiled the continents! In this article, techniques long available but never before disclosed are published in our newest book The Enzmann Echolance – Reach for the Stars, available at our publications bookstore.
The technology to build starships exists now, and in fact, has existed for the past 30 – 40 years. Knowledge of this technology has been withheld from most of the public and even much of the engineering community for decades. This has been done by classification and a news media in the United States which is implacably hostile to technology in general. This attitude of the media, and a politically powerful segment of the so-called academic community, has literally frozen aeronautical progress in the United States for nigh unto 32 years.
An effort to build starships would, in ten to fifteen years, place expeditions with men, women, and children aboard, on landfalls near half a dozen of the Sun’s closest neighbors.
In the immediate future – 1985-1995 – such an effort would generate a technological economic, social, and moral boom of global extent, raising standards of living in the USA by 200 – 300% and over the globe by a minimum of 50 – 100%. Few of us remember what life was like in the American south from the 1930s to the early 1950s. How skimpy the media was granting credit to Kennedy’s Apollo project for its spending on roads, supermarkets, furniture, housing, radios, television sets, schools, automobiles, and the other material things of life. Contrary to popular belief, the 20 billion or so dollars that were invested did not fly away to the Moon, eventually perishing as space junk. It was spent on ourselves, and then a few tons of metal carried the hearts of the nation to the Moon.