From the Enzmann Archives ca 1980
Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann
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 which 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 which 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 a 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, will be published.
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 a 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.
Attempts to Prevent it
How sad is the story of Project Apollo as originally planned compared with what was finally permitted. In brief: lower stages could have been collected in Erath orbit from both the Gemini and Apollo flights. Had this been done, we would today have a great national space station orbiting Earth. Upper stages and used LEMs (lunar excursion modules) could have been collected in Lunar orbit. This was not done. It was not done because great pressure was brought to bear by the academic community and media to prevent all and any moves toward the building of such stations. Lower stages were deliberately destroyed by hurling them into the earth’s atmosphere. Upper stages and the LEMs were hurled into solar orbit or back to the Moon, wasting precious fuel, oxygen, food, and potential living space which could have served as a point of refuge for later expeditions.
Who Will Profit
Yet, the common average persons, the Archi Bunkers of the world, the working engineers, the housewives, always have and always will manage to force technological progress to occur. Sooner rather than later the media and savants of the academic community will be dragged kicking and screaming into stellar exploration, even as they were forced into the space age by the economic horse-sense of this community of persons.
Consequences of Doing it
This article is designed to briefly tell the public just how close we are to a new age of discovery and exploration; to convey how this effort will open a cornucopia of technological plenty in a super clean environment for all of humankind and how modest the required investment will be. The writer will first demonstrate the simplicity and general availability of technology with which starships can be built, and consider the cost.
Early Plans for Interstellar Probes
Efforts toward launching an unmanned interstellar probe by 1980 to the Sun’s nearest neighbors, the triplet suns of the Proxima Centauri System, were well underway by the 1950s. Plans were not ad hoc. They were carefully couched in a overall plan to gradually expand humankind’s research within the solar system, around the solar system, and thence out of the solar system. In all phases, applications were to follow the first research and exploration probes. In all cases the Grand Plan was itself subordinate and always a small part of a much larger global plan to quickly improve the health, education, and living standards of as many people on Earth as possible… and not just towards interstellar flight per se. Unfortunately, when the so-called high technologists speak thus, the talk is always received with feigned derisive shock and sneering distaste by the liberal wine-and-cheese set, the so-called humanistic scientific community. I beg the reader to consider a single lengthy footnote included at the end of this article – The North American Hydroelectric Project.
Lunar Rovers and Economics
The writer took advantage of an opportunity to cross the Greenland Ice Cap. It is strange that no proper accounts seem to be in print concerning the modus operendi of such crossings. Frankly stated: we started with between 70 – 300 dogs, depending on the number of men in the crossing. We ended the expeditions with perhaps 10 to 30 dogs. The missing dogs were used to nourish the stronger animals.
During the Apollo program the writer suggested – and seriously – that dogs in space suits would be far cheaper and far more effective Lunar Rovers than the mechanical devices finally settled on. Ranges open to exploration would have been much greater. Costs would have been lower. The flesh-and-blood rovers would have been left on the Moon. Alas, in spite of all the writer’s efforts to persuade NASA that these would be magnificent freeze-dried monuments to mans’ best friend, NASA rejected the concept on humane grounds. Yet, how many of the readers have seen (as the writer has) what happens to mans’ best friend in medical schools all over the world at the annual sacrifice to vivisection! I looked sadly at the poor would-be rovers being dragged by ropes around their necks into surgery, commenting to my partner: “That is the only species of animal life that trusts humankind and is a real friend to us. There is a lot to be learned here besides medicine.”
Nuclear Powered Rockets
Basic to the goal of launching of an unmanned interstellar probed by about 1980 was the Orion nuclear pulse rocket. Such vehicles could, in the late 1960s, have carried 80-person expeditions to Mars in one week, stopped there for a day, a week, or even months. They had sufficient power to be independent of the narrow launch windows we follow today as tortuously as the Spanish followed the Trade Winds in the 1600s. They could have returned with 10 tons of samples after another seven days of flight. The same vehicles could have carried a 20-person expedition to Pluto (about eight light hours distant) in three weeks, stopped for a week, returning with two tons of samples in a twenty-one day return passage. The lengths of time spent by the Pioneer, Marine, and Voyager probes are absurdities compared to the possibilities that were and are still open to engineers.
The engineering community was fully confident in 1958 and 1959 that men would land on most of the bodies of the solar system well before 1990 and certainly before 2000. Orion space ships were built and test flow in the late 1950s by the US Air Force. They were powered with charges of conventional explosives in order not to contaminate the atmosphere. In space, the Orion vehicles would have been driven by tiny nuclear bomblets. The nuclear pulse engine was tested successfully in an enclosed static rack in the late 1950s with complete success, exceeding all specifications.
Note: the Orion, Nerva, the larger nuclear snap reactors, and ion drives were cancelled about 1960, dismantled for scrap, and have not been discussed or mentioned by the media since.
Note: the early Orion nuclear pulse propulsion engines were tested apart from the airframes and found not only excellent but significantly better than called for in the designs. Project Orion was totally scrapped in 1950. Discussion of it is still under media black-list moratorium. The writer and numbers of other engineers were told in no uncertain terms to be quiet or else. The threats and admonitions were not due to any issue of national security, but from a very powerful fraction of the so-called and self-nominated liberal scientific community. Project Orion has scarcely been heard of since.
It is all too easy to jeer and make fun of technologies achievements; however in human history the years about WW I and WW II are notable for the enormously expanded technology, improved health, better nutrition, universal suffrage, general education, soaring productivity per capita, and particularly for the expansion of scientific information. Interesting and notorious examples include: the Mount Paloma telescope, the Krupp family’s Big Bertha aeroplane, the eradication of smallpox, V-2 nuclear fission bombs and then power plants, then, quite suddenly, the first manned space flights. It was in the 1940s that interstellar flight became a technological possibility. The dream of star-flight fired the imaginations of scientists everywhere and burned in the hearts of many others. In this article, designs of the 1950s for starship engines will be considered, together with the startling not yet published designs of the 1970s.
How much we owe the early pioneers, scientists, industrialists, and philanthropists. I knew a few of them personally – Charles Lindbergh landed his plane on the white sandy beach in front of our lonely isolated home in Maine which was situated close to the home of future Senator Margaret Chase Smith. Lindbergh stayed with us for several nights. I have handmade maps, made by the father of the Red Barron, elder von Richthofen, who did so much to establish the geology of China and dreamed of airlines across Siberia. Goddard I also knew when I was young. In hours, this open, helpful man educated a little boy in rocketry. One of the dearest to my heart was old Grandpa Guggenheim – why doesn’t the media give him credit? He is the man who financed so much of Lindbergh’s epic flight. It was Guggenheim who financed most of Dr. Goddard’s research, which swept America, Germany, and then the world into the space age.
The first technology which could have been used to build starships – at great expense – was developed in the early 1950s with the fabrication of atomic (fission) bombs smaller than the end of your little finger. The objective was to shrink atomic bombs so they could be fired from six-inch, or even smaller caliber artillery pieces. Following this invention they designed such equipment as atomic powered locomotives and even large military tanks, which hopefully would be able to range 50,000 miles or more without refueling. They would carry quantities of shells and each would have warheads with explosive powers of perhaps 100 tons of dynamite. Indeed an attractive system for military men of WW II vintage, who at best had to refuel their tanks every 20 – 30 miles.
Now going back in time, consider the first successful internal combustion engine. It was built by French ironmongers, manufacturers of muzzle-loading cannons. They placed a piston in a small cannon, linked the piston to a crankshaft and tried to operate it with gunpowder, and finally succeeded in operating it (and propelling a ferry boat) using saffron pollen as fuel.
The cars we drive are simple heat-engines derived from the cannon. Basically they include the cannons (cylinders), projectiles (pistons), coupling devices (crankshaft), and usually a flywheel and regulatory mechanisms. The Orion Nuclear Pulse rocket is a one cylinder engine. The micro atomic bombs are shaped-charge explosives (this is the first time this has been printed); the ‘potbellied stove’ reactor became a simple plate. It reached temperatures of 100,000,000ok for 1/1,000,000 of a second – once per second – resulting in average pusher-plate temperatures of about 10oc in space.
It is instructive to consider these two technologies in the context of how humankind’s scientific knowledge, his technological society, as well as global levels of health education, standards of living, dreams of cheap unlimited fusion power, and manned interstellar flight developed concurrently. It is instructive because even the possibility, much less the near future certainty, of manned starships voyaging into to a new physical frontier is a new dream of humankind’s. Serious efforts to design and test these technologies are very recent.
The quest for real physical frontiers stirs ceaselessly in the souls of men. No group of humans, animals, or even microorganisms has ever – except with forked tongue in both cheeks – seriously devoted energy to solving all local problems before allowing migration out of the local ‘neighborhood,’ or required total understanding of the ramifications of a technical innovation before permitting application of said new technology. New physical frontiers are organic necessities. As Earl Hubbard so succinctly phrased it: “If humankind is forbidden to venture out into interstellar space, the consequences are not expanded freedom, justice, and a wholesome clean environment. The consequences are threefold: dictatorship, devolution, and death.”
Let us consider frontiers and the development of technology: the beautiful earthly frontiers of the American golden West, Australia, Manchuria, Africa, and elsewhere dwindled swiftly in the 1800s. Woodsmen swept away forests. The iron horse locomotive carried products to the growing cities, along with human families, who forever talked of and longed for ‘the country’. At that time a few scientists visualized space travel, and the very first science fiction appeared.
In the sunny prosperous days of the very late 1800s and early 1900s the vast forests of the earth’s temperate zones were at last beaten. Lumberjacks skinned Massachusetts and much of Europe as bald as Astroturf. Multitudes thronged into the cities, over which carpets of electric lights flickered on. Telescopes and artillery improved. A global middle class emerged; in America their heartfelt longing for the country and a physical frontier was constrained to vacations reading Zane Grey and other escape literature, and occasionally science fiction. Many more scientists considered space travel within the solar system, yet so little was known. The principles which would make interplanetary flight possible were just conceptions; the technology did not exist. The principles for flights to the stars were not known. The haunting promise of travel to the planets still lay somewhere between fantasy and conceivable, but with very distant technology indeed.
The Aquarians Strike Back
The effort was to industrialize the entire globe in a generation, then to ride on the crest of enormously expanded wealth (best measured in the average person’s capital in terms of health, nutrition, education, housing, leisure, entertainment, utilities, and appliances), and then cause ever-more efficient and productive technology to flow outward into humankind’s manifest destiny. It should never be forgotten that when wealth reaches the average man (middle class and blue collar workers, not the elite), the new wealth of the middle class automatically creates yet more wealth. This inevitably forces the development of even more advanced systems. One of the most compelling developments will be the opening of a real physical frontier into which humankind will be able to migrate. That frontier is interstellar space.
The effort to take humankind to the stars, so enthusiastically worked on in the 1950s, ended in the anguish of cancellations, engineering and research moratoriums, and media distortions and black listings of the 1960s and 1970s. The concept of universal industrialization was scrapped in a catastrophic ban on all new systems development until “all social problems are solved”. This monstrous situation, compounded by promises to dismantle large fractions of the American industrial base, was epitomized by two recent movements: Carter’s election platform promising to dismantle the national capacity to generate power with nuclear reactors, and the Carter government’s laws suits against businesses and universities on the grounds that their attempts to develop new tomatoes and mechanical tomato pickers was a crime against farm labor. The 1960s and 1970s were a generation of technological repression in the United States, continuing to this day. This was done by the Liberal community who orchestrated the communications media, hunted out creative engineers to destroy their careers, and cancelled programs which would have raised the standard of living. They stifled, falsified, or misdirected research, wasted resources, debased the currency, and antagonized much of the world. This same liberal community has been implacably hostile toward cheap food production, cheap power production, and basic education for the masses – particularly the teaching of science, history, and geography.
Human progress continues in spite of the liberal community, which has done its best to stifle it with their catastrophic moratoriums all new system development. This they did in the name of ‘solving all social problems before trying to compound the complexities of our civilization’, but in reality, they are implacably hostile to anything which might really uplift and improve the lot of the average human being anywhere.
These improvements to the lot of common persons would have been attained quickly by pushing at top speed the development of a postindustrial society, by furthering all phases of high technology, by using the developed and developing high technology as a super, universal, and worldwide school where people could learn, and by applying new technologies to develop the state of all arts.
High technology, resulting in a postindustrial society, urbanization of the solar system, and interstellar expeditions, was one part of the plan. Appropriate technology – how abused this term has become – was to be followed step by step by all people, or even several steps at a time whenever possible, to produce ever higher standards of living globally. Appropriate technology was well understood by the Chinese; it is what abolished famine in China, converting it into a nation with a food surplus. China is now swiftly moving to total industrialization with attendant high standards of living. Appropriate technology has, as recently as 1975, changed India into a country that can feed itself. Appropriate technology is that which can be applied to a problem at once, with a profit. It isn’t a cul-de-sack or an end in itself. Appropriate technology is a step along a stair case, and delightfully, some like to run up the staircase many steps at a time – perhaps even try a Great Leap Forward!
Now I will direct this article to the specifics of technology being developed to urbanize the solar system. The reader must not regard the word urbanize as ugly; urbanization can give rise to structures of fairy-like beauty. The momentum generated through the efforts to develop the solar system will carry some persons on to the vast limitless reaches of interstellar space long before the solar system has been completely explored. The momentum generated through our ever growing technological capabilities will carry humankind to ever-higher plateaus. Some people will rest there. Others will invent and partake in expansions, which in the not too distant future of the history of our species, will parallel the departure of the lung fish from the shallow Appalachian Oceans for the land.
The growth of human society and betterment of the lot of individuals is never a consequence of natural limitations. Limitations on growth and improvement of individual standards such as good health, nutrition, comfort, leisure, entertainment, happiness, and new frontiers, are not natural. Limitations on the above are imposed upon society by people, not by the natural environment.
Such people-imposed limitations always have more or less vicious results. In light of this, it is now useful to review technological progress under the political constraints placed upon it over the past 25 years: It may come as a surprise, in an article concerning the construction of manned starships, to read what follows, but the priorities of the Grand Planners in the late 1940s and early 1950s were not ad-hoc, limited to the construction of starships. The plans were technologically well conceived, methodically paced, and scientifically sound. Priorities of the Grand Planners were always directed toward the following objectives, essentially in the order listed below, to be accomplished as soon as possible, for as many people as possible; the view is that the only real resource is human beings, and that as far as we are capable of knowing anything, man is the measure of all things. The ideal results would be:
Health – freedom from pathological ill-health
Nutrition – universal, good, adequate, pleasant nutrition
Education – universal availability, compulsory for minors
Basics – clothing, shelter, heat, furnishings, from public welfare if needed
Employment – meaningful, it is criminal to waste a person’s life
Frontiers – for all and any person or group to develop, here on Earth or in space; people need frontiers be these religious, scientific, service, artistic, or physical frontiers
The above were to be attained through:
1) improved access roads in very primitive countries, nets of superhighways, pipelines, super-trains, and super electric power grids in advanced countries.
2) production of food surpluses in all countries (China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Mexico, and all of North Africa have attained and passed this level since 1950) further mechanizing factory farms, making them even less labor intensive in advanced countries.
3) accelerating the decrease in the cost of power, which had been declining since 1850 by immediate construction of continental hydroelectric projects across the globe, development of international fission power plants immediately, standardizing power frequencies and completing continental electric grids, developing fusion power plants in an all-out international crash program.
Early Designs of Interstellar Probes
In the late 1950s it was estimated that about 100 billion 1958 dollars would suffice to research, develop, build, and launch the first manned interstellar expedition. It could have carried perhaps 250 people to a depth of 5-209 light years from Earth at 20-35% of the velocity of light. It was thought that the subsequent manned expeditions would cost on the order of 2-10 billion 1958 dollars each. Today the technology to build relatively cheap starships is tantalizing close. Before comparing these two approaches to the construction of starship engines, it is revealing to consider the dismal stifling of technology by politics in the United States between 1958 and 1980.
Feasibility and hardware studies of launching unmanned interstellar probes had started in the 1950s. First a reconnaissance probe was panned, to fly-by the Proxima Centauri triplet at 95% the speed of light. This was a 10-12 year project, 1980-1992. The second step was an explorer probe, designed to trifurcate and place 50-inch telescopes in orbit about these stars and retinue of planets, self-program studies, then return the data to Earth. This was a 12-20 year project, to happen about 1985-2005. The third and last step was realization of the Grand Design, which projected a launch of manned starships between 1990-2005. Yes, even then we dared to dream, plan, and work toward a one-way manned expedition.
Note: It should be remembered that in the middle 1950s the liberal scientific community was shrieking with protest that an expedition to the Moon would be impossible for centuries because: reentry was impossible, mass ratios would have to be between 10 and 100 billion to one, that astronauts would disappear in 20 miles of moon-dust, that we should be curing cancer and clearing slums, and so on and on and on and on.
Nuclear Hydrogen Rockets, Ion Drives, and Auxiliary Power
Nerva was a very high ISP rocket constructed and static-tested in New Mexico. It would have enormously expanded the capabilities of the United States efforts in both unmanned and manned planetary exploration. It would for example, have made it possible to land persons on Mars, Mercury and some of the asteroids, and fly-by Venus. Together with the Nerva rocket, large very high power nuclear SNAP reactors were designed, constructed, and tested. Sadly, the Nerva rockets have been dismantled, the SNAP reactors junked, research on ion drives stopped, and a general moratorium on all research in these directions imposed; in effect, no significant research or even plans to research in this direction exists in the United States of 1980.
Nuclear Pulse Propulsion
In the foregoing paragraphs there has been some lamenting over the mass ratio of: 1000 tons of fuel + reaction mass being needed to move each ton to the area of a star near the Sun. In truth, the attainment of a mass ratio of 1000/1 was in itself a great achievement. Even the best combinations of chemical energy sources and/or nuclear powered ion drives would have demanded mass ratios in the order of 1,000,000/1 to attain even 5% of the velocity of light. The 1000/1 mass ratio was achieved by Orion Class Nuclear Pulse rockets.
To the best of the writer’s knowledge, Nuclear Pulse Propulsion was invented by Dr. Stanislaw Ulam as a consequence of his work developing atomic fission bombs. Over the past 30 years, engines for propelling vehicles to stars near the Sun have centered around two designs. First, Nuclear Pulse propulsion, which is known to a limited public. Orion rockets were built and test-flown with chemical pulses. Orion rockets were static bench-tested using nuclear pulses. The Orion K rockets were cut up for scrap about 1960 and a moratorium was imposed on all discussion in technical journals. It stands to this day. Now, over 22 years after the first Orion was test flown, nuclear pulse propulsion is rarely mentioned in the nontechnical media except to ridicule, abuse, demean, or grossly distort the cost, safety, and truly incredible capabilities of this engine. The second technique for interstellar propulsion was the Lorentzian Beam Propulsion. To the best knowledge of the writer, this has never previously been discussed in either a technical or non-technical publication. The writer developed a design for Lorentzian Beam Propulsion, subsequent to his work on thermonuclear fusion, which could have had application to fusion bombs and triggers. The work was cancelled and the direction of research stopped; however, it has reemerged in a most surprising and timely fashion, which will certainly insure its development in the very near future. (editor’s note: the writer does not indicate what that is.)
Manned Space Effort with Chemical Propulsion
The manned space effort has included Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle. Publically touted as a great success, in reality it is a bitterly truncated and politically dragged out technology. The successes are a tribute to the engineering community, the bitter disappointments are almost entirely due to political interference. The objectives of the Apollo Project were really fourfold: 1-land men on the moon. 2 - establish a permanent station on the surface of the Moon. 3 - establish a space station permanently orbiting the Moon. 4 - establish a space station permanently orbiting the Earth.
Six groups of men were landed on the Moon. Eleven expeditions made it to the vicinity of the Moon. No one was allowed to say so, but the desire to gather used rocket stages in Earth orbit and 3rd stages plus LEMS in Lunar orbit to use in the building of a large space station would have been easy. Potential living space, residual supplies, materials, and fuel could now be waiting in Earth orbit, Lunar orbit, and on the surface of the Moon.
The Apollo series was the only part of the Grand Design to Build Starships that survived. The project was visualized as a chemical forerunner, a means of gaining experience in space before the first generations of chemically powered aerospace planes were built. These were to be followed in turn by nuclear powered aerospace planes that could take off from any major airport and thence into orbit.
The Space Shuttle has barely survived in a reduced form. Construction of large booster rockets such as the Saturn series is no longer possible in the United States; the factories have been dismantled and no replacements are even planned. The USA could not today, nor for some years in the future, send a manned expedition to the Moon or even put a space lab into orbit. The USA was at sword point with the French, crushed the Germans, forced Japan to tread on eggs, and compelled other nations to follow our party line.
The Greater Apollo Project, Manned Expeditions, Operations on the Moon
The astonishingly successful parts of the Apollo Project carried out in the 1960s and early 1970s as seen by the public were but a part of the Greater Apollo Project. The Greater Apollo Project was directed toward realizing the following three goals in addition to landing men on the Moon:
1) Upper stages of the Saturn system were to be gathered in Earth Orbit, coupled together, and built into a permanent space station. The cost would have been minimal.
2) Some Apollo third stages were to be collected in Lunar orbit to become the elements of a permanent station orbiting the Moon. All LEMS were to be collected at the same station to add their residual supplies to its growth.
3) Several third stages were to be landed on surface of the Moon, to establish the beginnings of a permanent Lunar base.
Three to five additional trips, or redirection of two or three of the trips undertaken, would have sufficed to very roughly but usefully fabricate a space station orbiting the Earth permanently, a space station orbiting the Moon, and a station on the surface of the Moon. All would have been crude but usable, and expandable by later expeditions.
Note: the liberal scientific community, finally dragged, kicking and screaming protest every inch of the way into the space age, now devoted every effort toward making sure that none of the above was even attempted. Third stages were hurled into solar orbit, Lunar excursion modules were hurled into the moon to ‘generate seismic waves’, and lower stages were retro-rocketed into the oceans. And the talk was of a moratorium on any efforts in space for a half century or so. Finally the Apollo application programs were totally cancelled. A pity, when one to three expeditions would have sufficed to construct both a permanent lunar orbital station and a surprising large station on the surface of the moon. Really very little extra effort when we recall that five groups have since landed on the surface of the moon and ten manned expeditions have been in the vicinity of the moon.
Supersonic, Hyper-altitude, and Hypersonic Airframes
The continually expanding capabilities of aircraft since Kitty Hawk follow logical steps. These include reciprocating engines, jets, ram-jests, ANP (aircraft nuclear propulsion), and rockets. The airframes also grew in logical steps. The Germans, for example, were ready in 1944-1945 with intercontinental jet bombers and exospheric skip-glide missiles. It was visualized as a test bed from which designs for supersonic, hypersonic, and finally airport-to-orbit flights would evolve.
Airport to Earth Orbit Aerospace Craft
Lifting hundreds of tons and eventually multi-thousand ton payloads into Earth orbit at low prices has been and still is a major obstacle to an expanded space effort. On paper, it is apparent that if a system were available it would be significantly cheaper in ergs of energy expended, to transfer cargos from point to point along ballistic trajectories instead of struggling over the inhospitable oceans or through the atmosphere with aircraft. In the late 1940s engineers were really teased with how few kilowatts it should take to hoist a ton into Earth orbit. The ideal answer seemed to be the nuclear (ANP) aerospace plane. Such craft would be able to depart from any airport, then quickly and cheaply attain low Earth orbit.
Unfortunately, the design of advanced airframes has been under a moratorium in the USA for over 20 years. The Boeing supersonic airplane was cancelled at a greater cost than the price of completion. The Japanese attempt to purchase the project was curtly rebuffed with economic threats. The Anglo-French SST was beset by American threats, pressures, and a variety of economic sanctions. The Dyna-Soar (dynamic soar) airplane was cancelled and scrapped. Advanced hypersonic military aircraft have not been built, nor are they researched or designed. Opposition to the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo series as a dead-end in airframes was used as an excuse to swiftly discontinue airframe research. Nothing really new in the way of civil or military aircraft has evolved in the USA for over 20 years, nor is anything planned – with exception of the Boeing 747.
Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP)
The incredible potential of nuclear propulsion for aircraft was grasped by every aerospace firm in the world, even as PM-3A was evolving on the drawing boards. It was well understood in the late 1940s that vehicles the size of a Boeing 747 or a C-5 would ideally be powered by nuclear engines, rather than by burning hydrocarbons. The benefits would have included unlimited range, a huge increase in cargo carrying capacities, incredible reduction of fuel costs, great reductions in airport fire hazards – a God-sent release from the ever-present fire hazard that has cost thousands upon thousands of lives in agonizing aircraft fires. It promised an end to the noxious pollution that large numbers of large aircraft can generate, and a global economic boon in travel and cargo shipments.
Understand this, a number of ANP engines were designed, built, and finally test operated in the late 1950s. These included a number of ‘flights’ with the reactors developing full power, but not propelling the aircraft. The writer sat on one such engine when it was at full power, receiving less radiation than from the K40 (potassium 40) in the bloodstream of the person sitting next to him. The ANP nuclear engines were designed and packaged to generate less radiation than the natural cosmic background. They were also packaged to free-fall 1000,000 feet onto solid rock without bursting. It was intended that these engines would be used in subsonic craft, then in supersonic craft, and finally hypersonic passenger-carrying aircraft. The hypersonic, suborbital aircraft are natural developments in generations of aircraft because they save the passengers time, and they save energy by not beating their way through endless thousands of miles of atmosphere. Almost all the energy they consume is used for the task of transferring loads from point A to point B.
Sadly, aircraft nuclear propulsion research was totally stopped about 1960, the engines were dismantled for scrap. There is a moratorium on any research whatsoever in this direction, and since then the subject is not mentioned, much less discussed in the media.
Portable High Energy Nuclear Reactors
What is said in these next four paragraphs about small portable nuclear power plants may seem quite surprising, even astonishing. It is history, and gives perspective to everything that follows. Very simply, power plants which could drive vehicles to the stars were constructed in the early 1950s.
The American PM-3A nuclear reactor provided heat, power, and light for the U.S. Antarctic base at McMurdo Sound. Its electrical generating capacity was 1.6 to 2.0 megawatts, over a lifespan of at least 20 years. A Boeing 747 or USAF C-5 could transport it, with all shielding and auxiliary equipment. PM-3A operated from 1964 to 1972 without accident or difficulty. Yet, it was decommissioned and scrapped twelve years ahead of schedule as ‘a possible explosive’, ‘genetic hazard’, ‘threat to the natural Antarctic environment’, and for not being cost effective. Today, the cost of diesel engines, storage facilities, fuel-preheat equipment, special heated pipelines, and the agonized logistics of dragging fuel to the Antarctic have ballooned costs upwards of 50-300 times the cost of letting nuclear reactor PM-3A continue in operation. Furthermore, all other operations about McMurdo Sound are constrained by the crushing logistics burden, while the radioactivity from burning the hydrocarbon fuels exceeds that of PM-3A. In addition, there has been a moratorium lasting almost 20 years on construction, research, or even discussion of advanced portable nuclear power plants. Demonstration plants and pilot plants started or existing were dismantled.
Using the energy potential of the primitive PM-3A, designed over 25 years ago, for propulsion of a spacecraft is a tantalizing engineering problem. This ancient power plant had the capacity in the 1960s, but did a means of propulsion exist? Was there a way of applying the energy such that it would accelerate a vehicle against the inertial continuum, without paying a penalty of carrying 1000,000 tons of fuel (plus reaction mass) for each 100 tons of vehicle plus payload? Yes, there were two ways. It is revealing to estimate the propulsion that might be accomplished if the ancient PM-3A’s energy could be applied:
(1.6 MW) (746 watts/HP) (550 ft. lbs./HP) / (32 ft. / sec2) (2000 lbs/ton) = 200 tons at 1G (gravity; that is to say a 200 ton mass could be accelerated at 1G against the inertial continuum.) It is fascinating to think that this early primitive reactor could have produced sufficient electrical energy to accelerate a 200 ton vehicle to about 70,000 miles per second in perhaps 10 weeks, or a 1000 ton vehicle to a speed of about 14,000 miles per second in the same amount of time. It is useful to remember that if the 1000-to-1 ration must be observed, the reactor could accelerate its vehicle to speeds maximizing at about 36,000 miles per second after 10 years of acceleration, then it would have to decelerate for the next ten years.
One of humankind’s Grand Designs is now so close to realization and so appropriate, that almost everyone now alive will enjoy the prosperity generated by clean, cheap, and unlimited fusion power. (The editor notes that Bussard’s fission-fusion Pollywell portable reactor is being built in 2017, which will make cheap, clean energy available to even third-world countries, raising the standard of living world-wide.) Starships will be built almost at the moment fusion reactors commence producing electricity commercially. Most importantly this article is the first publication discussing engines for starship propulsion which are not bitterly constrained by the classical rule that 1000 tons of fuel and reaction mass are required to deliver one ton of payload to a neighboring star. This article is about starships being mass-produced to carry brave men, women, children, and that older people will share their wisdom and experience with fellow colonists setting forth on the Long, Long Passage.
Footnote: The North American Hydroelectric Project
The writer feels compelled to add this note for two reasons. First, to briefly outline one of the bitterest disappointments which the North American Engineering community suffered in the last 25 years, one which was also a heavy personal disappointment.
The North American Hydroelectric Project was inspired after WW II when our engineers saw that the Norwegians had harnessed water power, and used it in industry to electrify railways, and to produce power for light and heat. The effect in Norway, one of the poorest countries on the globe (below even Bangladesh in resources until the discover of North Sea Oils), was stunning. The standard of living shot up. Health improved, the environment was vastly cleaner. The improved cleanliness around train depos and industries is something that anyone who has traveled in the filthy, coal burning trains of Continental Europe and England will appreciate.
The Norwegian hydroelectric project was an inspiration to every engineer who saw it. Particularly inspiring was the wonder of heating homes electrically. We hoped that this would soon be a possibility in all nations of the Earth; we furthermore hoped that North America could expand on the Scandinavian example by lighting highways as well as heating almost all dwelling places electrically. We came, we saw, we went to work.
The NAHP would have quadrupled production of electricity in Canada, the USA, and Mexico, and doubled the area that could be farmed. It would have provided beautiful inland waterways for the transport of goods – a logical descendant of the canal systems of the 1800s.
Russia saw and went to work immediately. Look at a map of European Russia and Siberia of today. The new lakes, hydroelectric plants, expanded farmlands, and ameliorated weather are a tribute to what can be done. It is not often mention in the American-controlled information media, but you can now take trips on ocean liner-like vehicles across both European Russia and most of Siberia.
India saw and went to work. Just three years ago they solved their food problem by manipulation of their hydroelectric irrigation system. India, even as China, can now feed itself. How this must confound the Black Guelph, which so fondly predicted mass global starvation by the mid-1970s for most of humanity.
Africa and South America saw and went to work. Their success has been great, albeit projects are only in the initial stages.
How shameful it is; North America did not go to work.
This article was discovered in the Enzmann Archives, written approximately 1980. Edited by Michelle Snyder, published by White Knight Studio with permission.
Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann, designer of the Enzmann Starship
physicist, scientist, astronomer, geologist, archaeologist, historian, linguist, medical doctor
British Embassy School, Peking, China; Univ. London; WW II USN, AC; RN, AB Harvard; ScB Hon., London; Standard, MSc, Witwatersrand; Nat Sci Scholar; MIT course work; Royal Inst. Uppsala Swed.; PhD/MD Cuidad Juarez, Mex.; Pacific Radar: Greenland Gap-filler, Canada DEW-line; SAGE; Pacific PRESS; California ATLAS, BMEWS; ICBM; Kwajalein Atoll ICBM intercept; TRADEX; Mars Voyager; Cryptography.