- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Collector's Guide Publishing, Inc. (May 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1926592034
- ISBN-13: 978-1926592039
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,072,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lightcraft Flight Handbook LTI-20: Hypersonic Flight Transport for an Era Beyond Oil Paperback – May 1, 2009
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The road from Myrabo's 1990's demonstration of a laser powered launch of a spinning aluminum disc to the Lightcraft would be a very long one. The craft uses all sorts of technologies that work in principle ... but in practice?
We have the lightweight rectenna to convert carefully directed microwave beams from orbit. When Jerry O'Neill wanted to do this back in the 1970's for geosynchronous satellites and fixed ground antennas, that was one thing, but precisely aimed beams tracking a hypersonic vehicle with extremely high power densities, I don't know. One miss and something on the ground fries. The propulsion techniques are somewhat different from Myrabo's demonstration, which is for pulsed detonation of air. The Lightcraft allows for ion propulsion (can you get the thrust needed?), to pulsed detonation of air to MHD of using air deflected and ionized to a plasma, controlled by superconducting magnets. No demonstration of the latter technology has been made to my knowledge, so it may be totally fanciful. The craft is made as lightweight as a blimp, yet has to withstand incredible aerodynamic forces with a blunt edge using a plasma spike.
While there is some background technical information in the appendix, this is a very far cry from the technologies needed for the vehicle described.
I'm not sure who the audience for this book is. Engineering minded folks looking for some substance are going to be very disappointed, because it reads like science fiction. The book is full of sketches and center section with nice CG images, but again, very little of substance. The best analogy I can make is that it is like the fanciful ideas of rocketry in the C19th, assuming black powder propellants would be enough to launch huge iron spacecraft, simply because rockets should work in space.
The ideas are certainly ones to make you think, but I would have much preferred reading about real experiments in this direction with a lot more engineering details about possible designs. If there is further experimentation in this area, I would welcome a book about those results and the engineering possibilities based on that data.
The appendices at the back of the book provide more than ample science for this work of science fiction, as do the references. The author is currently working on building working prototypes of the craft in the book. The best way to predict the future is to build it.
Mr. Myrabo and Mr. Lewis have done a wonderful job of filling in the blanks on a topic that is very complicated and mind-bending. The book has beautiful color pictures, elegantly detailed drawings and a reference section, so helpful to those of us who want to know more about how we might travel in the future.
Both authors are world-class university level professors and they have extensive academic and laboratory experience in the topics covered in the book. It should be noted that a prototype Lightcraft has already flown (search YouTube). According to the authors, in 2025 the Lightcraft could take us quickly around the planet or even to an orbiting space station!
The chapter describing lung liquid ventilation of a test pilot in a High-g situation is clear, concise, and understandable. The concept may seem like science fiction to many readers, but as a respiratory therapist, I know from personal experience that this method of liquid perflourocarbon ventilation has already been successfully used in humans.
In a world distracted by news bites and trivia, this book provides grist for the mind. Lightcraft Flight Handbook LTI-20 would make a perfect gift for anyone from the science student to difficult to buy for friends who seem to have everything. Trust me, they do not have anything like this book yet.