More on the
Starship ‘Slingshot’ Maneuver


by PAUL GILSTER on NOVEMBER 20, 2012

Although we ordinarily think of Stanislaw Ulam in connection with pulse propulsion — and in particular with the Orion concept, in which nuclear devices are exploded behind the spacecraft — the scientist was also investigating other propulsion ideas. It puts yesterday’s discussion of Freeman Dyson’s ‘gravitational machines’ into context to realize that Ulam was writing about obtaining ‘a velocity arbitrarily large — that is, close to the velocity of light…’ using gravitational slingshots around astronomical objects in papers written as early as the late 1950s. There is, as Greg Matloff and Eugene Mallove remind us in The Starflight Handbook fantastic energy available in the orbital motion of celestial bodies. How best to tap it?

Read more: More on the Starship ‘Slingshot’ Maneuver.

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