It’s mesmerizing, isn’t it?
The rocket standing there on the pad, a great number of eyes watching it in anticipation. The occasional glances at the sky to make sure the weather cooperates. The sound of the Flight Director’s voice as he or she counts down to the moment the engines fire and the craft begins to ascend.
Ironically, this also is a reminder of our greatest limitation pertaining to space travel. Current rocket engines just won’t do for long-distance exploration.
Now, as you know, Photos to Space recently extended an open invitation to all of our readers to suggest ideas for blog topics, and our first suggestion comes to us from Timothy York, who wants to know about ideas for overcoming this snag.
So what are some of the methods on the drawing board to take us into deep space?
The Diametric Drive: Negative Mass particles would be used to create higher gravity in front of a spacecraft than exists behind it, causing the craft to move towards the area of higher gravity.
Pitch Drive & Bias Drive: Similar to the Diametric Drive, though the gravitational displacement would be generated from fixed points rather than aboard the craft itself.
Alcubierre Drive: Not unlike the Warp Drive presented on ‘Star Trek’, Alcubierre Drives use Negative Mass to “contract” space in front of a spacecraft and “expand” space behind it, propelling the craft forward at what would appear to be faster-than-light travel.
Differential Sail: Similar to the sail on a seagoing vessel, the Differential Sail would use manipulated changes in vacuum pressure to drive a spacecraft.
Wormholes: Though hypothetical (for now), a wormhole is a sort of secret passage through space and time that would allow great distances to be covered with relatively little motion.
Woodward Effect: Postulated by James Woodward, this theorizes that changes in the mass of particles in a closed loop can be utilized to serve as a sort of never-ending fuel supply.
Reactionless Drives: An entirely theoretical means of propulsion that would allow for thrust with no energetic reaction, but would violate known laws of physics.
EmDrive: Another theoretical system that uses electricity to generate directed microwaves from a magnetron to induce thrust.
Photon rocket: In a twist on a standard rocket, the fuel is converted into a directed stream of photons to propel a craft.
There are other drive systems being proposed and modeled, of course.
While they all have the potential to be the means for us to get to other planets in our own solar system, and maybe even end up being the method by which we get to other stars, in reality only one of them needs to work for us to venture past our little corner of the neighborhood.
So how did the scientists who propose these systems get these ideas?
The same way you could.