The most expensive part of any voyage into space – be it to the orbiting space station or distant Pluto – is travelling the first 160 kilometres blasting off the Earth.
On average, the cost of leaving the gravity pull of our planet and placing a communication satellite, telescope or planetary probe into space is about US$10,000 per pound. Each and every large rocket launches hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment. With astronomical costs like these tied to today’s dependence on expendable, chemical launch vehicles, the hopes for a burgeoning space industry in the near future filled with orbiting hotels and moon bases and boots on Mars and beyond may remain stymied for generations to come unless these expenses can be brought down to Earth.
Space propulsion researchers have been coming up with blueprints for alternatives (some more realistic than others) for decades, and one particularly intriguing concept has been receiving a lot of attention recently.
This pastRead More »from How humans will get to space without rocket ships