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Deep Space Propulsion: A Roadmap to Interstellar Flight (Astronomers' Universe) Paperback – December 2, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1461406068 ISBN-10: 1461406064 Edition: 2012th
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Deep Space Propulsion: A Roadmap to Interstellar Flight (Astronomers' Universe) + Making Starships and Stargates: The Science of Interstellar Transport and Absurdly Benign Wormholes (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration) + Frontiers of Propulsion Science (Progress in Astronautics and Aeronautics)
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Editorial Reviews


From the book reviews:

“This is a readable, insightful and personal history of interstellar travel thinking with a focus on propulsion … . each chapter has an ‘introduction’ providing a short overview of the chapter while the ‘practice exercises’ at the end are to stimulate discussion. … The theoretical background presented here by Long deserves to be read and the bibliography deserves to be considered as a starting point for anyone interested in these topics. The colour illustrations are very helpful.” (Anders Hansson, The Aeronautical Journal, November, 2014)

“Kelvin has taken the reader from the basic, simple principles of reaction propulsion … and on to the exotic world of deep-space journeys. … The most valuable aspect of this book is that it never bucks difficult issues … . If there is one book from which to gather all essential aspects of deep-space propulsion and stellar transportation systems this is it. It is both required reading and an essential reference … . useful for the layreader and the professional.” (Spaceflight, Vol. 54 (7), July, 2012)

From the Back Cover

As humans take their first tentative steps off our home planet, and debate the costs/benefits of sending people back to the Moon and perhaps on to Mars, we must also start to make plans for the day when we will venture forth as pioneers farther out into the Solar System and beyond - perhaps far, far beyond - to explore and settle new worlds around other stars. It is vital that we develop the deep space propulsion technologies that will take us there, first to explore with robotic probes, then to follow ourselves. This is necessary so that if anything catastrophic happened to Earth, our species would survive. And the possibilities for catastrophe are great. An impacting asteroid ended the reign of the dinosaurs, and today we have many other threats such as global war, climate change, pollution, resource limitations and overpopulation.

In this book, Kelvin F. Long takes us on all the possible journeys - the mission targets, the technologies we might use to power such journeys, and what scientific knowledge we are seeking to obtain upon arriving there.

Despite the problems of today it is important that we take a long-term view for the future of our species. In fact, the only way to assure a future is to start planning for it now and then progress incrementally. Today, society is not in a position to launch the types of missions outlined in this book, mainly due to a lack of political motivations to try and the economic cost for launching it. But if we start to develop these technologies today, then it is likely that one of them will come to technological maturity at some point in the coming centuries and will power our species to the stars. Our commitment today to achieve near-term goals will ensure a tomorrow for the generations ahead.


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Product Details

  • Series: Astronomers' Universe
  • Paperback: 367 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 2012 edition (November 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1461406064
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461406068
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Magnifying Glass on April 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are a Star Trek fan, you know that Mr. Scott is the Starship Enterprise's Chief Engineering Officer; Captain Kirk couldn't do without him. Mr. Scott's passion is starships and their engines. When possible, he'd skip shore leave on some idyllic planet so he could study his starship drive tech manuals. He would have liked Long's book . . . .

Parts of the book are highly technical. How technical? There are 53 pages featuring one or more formulas to calculate exhaust velocities, specific impulses and etc. There are 40 tables of mission types, profiles and etc. There are 53 line drawings and pencil sketches of concept spacecraft, starships, propulsion schemes and etc.

For Mr. Scott, this book would be a look-back at the struggles of early 21st century engineers and scientist in conceiving of a means to traverse the immense distance to the stars. Their current spacecraft could only achieve a tiny fraction of the speed of light; flight times to the stars would be thousands of years. They were faced with a grand challenge . . . .

Walk before running: Sending humans to a nearby star would require huge massive ships; difficult to accelerate, with flight times longer than a lifespan and uncertainty of habitability of any planets at flights end. Human voyages should be preceded with probes; they are smaller, easier to accelerate, but will their instruments survive the long flight?

Crawl before walking: In Long's roadmap (Table 17.1), the way to proceed is with precursor missions to distances much closer to home. Each iteration would be further out, faster, and of longer duration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Volker Maiwald on March 13, 2015
Format: Paperback
Deep Space Propulsion is the title of the book, yet surprisingly little of it actually adresses this topic. The book contains a broad set of essay-like chapters about many topics, including spaceflight history, extrasolar planets and various means of propulsion for solar system travel. It also shows many concepts for spacecraft of various levels of sophisitication and quality.
However the style of the book is very non-scientific and inaccurate. The author creates many claims and makes "obvious" assumptions, which are by far not obvious. He e.g. states that it would be nonsense to assume that we would take 300 years of technological advance to reach Jupiter (with human crews), yet does not explain why he is of that opinion. Given the fact that we have not set foot on another celestial body for 45 years, this is not an obvious claim. And this is only one exampled, where the authors enthusiasm clouds his judgement and argumentation. most of the argumentation is made up of such biased assumptions and claims - the fact that one of the presented spacecraft concepts is basically the starship enterprise (include saucer section and warp drive) adds not to his credibility.
There are few formulas used and sometimes they are used profoundly wrong. For instance the author claims that from the equation for relativistic momentum it can be seen that this momentum becomes zero for v = c. But this is wrong and had he analysed this equation, which is even in his book, he would have realized that. It reaches infinity, the direct opposite ( And therefore the whole argumentation of the author about this subject is invalid. This only adds to the impression of a very shallow level of sophistication and not to the credibility of the British Interplanetary Society. I recommend avoiding this book, which had a promising topic, but turned out to be lame.
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By William on April 19, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R Frey on February 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a well written and clear survey of the subject, but I would have preferred more technical depth. Nonetheless, it can serve as a useful starting point for someone interested in potential deep space and interstellar propulsion technologies.
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