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Prospects for Interstellar Travel (Science and Technology Series)

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0877033448
ISBN-10: 0877033447
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Product Details

  • Series: Science and Technology Series (Book 80)
  • Hardcover: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Univelt (May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877033447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877033448
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 7.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,053,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is not merely a rigorous 'nuts and bolts' engineering assessment of the realistic prospects, costs and timelines for achieving interstellar spaceflight. It is also the most condensed distillation of current knowledge in the fields of physics, atomic engineering, systems engineering, sociology and political science that you will find anywhere. I'm buying it for my kid. If they make it from cover to cover, they will be in possession of all the basic requirements for attaining a technical education in any field, and the book is not that big.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eric Gudorf on February 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book presents, in technical terms understandable to most any engineering or science major, the prospects and problems involved with planning an actual interstellar space mission. The bad news, for devotees of Star Trek and others who hope we can easily cross large sections of the Galaxy at will just a few centuries from now, is that the basic laws of physics and engineering as we currently understand them simply rule this out. At best, we are limited to the notion of a relatively slow, multi-generation spacecraft to reach even the closest stars. The author examines, in detail, the different options available for propelling such a ship, and the engineering and human design factors for making it functional. The writing style is a bit dry, but the technical analysis is thorough, yet not overwhelming for one who is not a specialist in the field. Perhaps the ultimate message of this book is that star flight dreamers may have to lower their expectations of "warp drives" and jumps into "hyperspace", or else hope for unexpected breakthroughs in spaceflight technology, ones that will allow us to bypass limits as we currently understand them and someday give us the capability for true, practical high speed travel to the stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W Boudville HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
Do you read science fiction? Have you wondered about the basic physics and engineering that would be needed for true interstellar propulsion? This book from 1992 gives a rigorous exposition based on known science. No hyperdrive here! Much of this text can be read by someone with a good high school or general undergraduate education. Some sections delve into the physics of, say, the rocket equation. But for the most part, the narrative explains clearly the basic ideas behind how one might make a spaceship that could travel for decades or more.

Sobering to realise that 20 years have passed since this book came out. Sadly, it is still largely up to date. Rocketry has barely advanced beyond what was described here. Likewise for the other topics. The great advances in computing barely register in terms of improving the prospects for long duration space flights.

There is one topic however which has vastly improved. The detection of exoplanets - planets outside our solar system. In 1992 the topic was just ramping up, and no exoplanets were known. Now the tally is up to 700 or so, and increasing rapidly each year. Exoplanets were completely and correctly omitted from the text. A newer edition would have to bring these in. We can anticipate that soon we will have a much better idea of where to travel to. The book could only speculate on vague generalities of destinations.

Now if only rocketry could improve massively!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the awesomest for spaceflight technology. It has two outstanding features: 1) only about half the book is dedicated to the propulsion problem. It covers other related topics including mission architectures, technological advances necessary for long-duration missions, possible science objectives, requirements for exploration and colonization at the destination star system, requirements for interstellar communications, and the interstellar medium. These are topics usually neglected in these sorts of books.

2) the second outstanding thing is that the brevity imposed on the first half of the book having to do with propulsion forces the author to be very succinct in his explanations of possible interstellar schemes. I like this because alot of the physics I already know; this makes for concise description of the technical details. A lay reader unfamiliar with physics and engineering background and conventions will find much of this material incomprehensible. For example, many of the drawings having to do with, say, magnetic nozzles and electromagnetic mass drives, are annotated with lines marked "B" and "I". For the uninitiated, the letter B stands for a magnetic field or lines of magnetic induction, and the letter I stands for an electrical current (amperes, or coulombs per second of charge flow).

The book is not a slick production; it looks as if it was printed from a 1980s era MS-DOS computer. Considering that it was published in 1992 and Mauldin obviously spent at least a few years putting it together, that seems likely. But the charts and diagrams are still intelligible. Nonetheless, the quality and breadth of the material is outstanding. And believe it or not, there aren't any space aliens! (not even any space wasted with speculations about ETIs).

Sure, getting a copy nowadays will set you back quite a few $$$, but there is nothing else quite like Prospects in the literature.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Theseus on September 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a chunky trade paperback, published by Univelt in conjunction with the American Astrological Society.

370 pp; 1.75 pounds. B&w illustrations.

22 page Bibliography.

Preface and Guide to Readers
Introduction to Interstellar Travel
Basics of Travel in Space

Advanced Propulsion Methods
Relativity and Interstellar Travel
Relativistic Drives and Problems

Starships as Systems
Astrogation, Observation, and Communication
Technological Requirements and Hazards
Biological Requirements

Personal, Social, and Political Considerations
Interstellar Life and Civilizations

Long-Term Prospects

- Unit System, Powers of Ten, Conversions, and Constants
- Classical Physics
- Relativistic Travel
- Other Selected Topics
- Programs and Printout Tables of Results for Rocket Motion

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