So what’s new? Many of the ideas expressed in this book are not new. It is only now, however, after decades of fundamental research and laboratory experimentation that many of these technologies are at the point where they can be seriously considered for real applications in space. For the foreseeable future, space exploration technologies will be based on ideas that are as old as the Space Age itself, if not older. There were 60 years of laboratory research between Hermann Oberth’s discussion of electric propulsion in 1939 and the 1998 flight of an ion engine as the primary propulsion system for the Deep Space 1 mission. It took 90 years for Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s solar sail to go from an interesting idea to a realizable propulsion system. As we move closer to fielding systems such as these, it is rightful to ask if there are any great new ideas in the pipeline that might be available for the next generation of space explorers.
KeywordsSolar Wind Propulsion System Normal Matter Plasma Propulsion Electric Propulsion
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