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"A science fiction story is a story built around human beings, with a human problem and a human solution, which would not have happened at all without its scientific content."
- Theodore Sturgeon

Torchship  
  A spaceship capable of high acceleration.  

This word paints a wonderful picture; a rocket looks like an upside-down torch, rising on its tail of flames.

FORTY-SEVEN minutes later they were being packed into the scout torchship Salamander. She was in orbit close by; Joe, Kleuger, and their handlers came by tube linking the hub of the Station to her airlock. Joe was weak and dopy from a thorough washing-out plus a dozen treatments and injections. A good thing, he thought, that light-off would be automatic.

The ship was built for high boost; controls were over the pilots’ tanks, where they could be fingered without lifting a hand. The flight surgeon and an assistant fitted Kleuger into one tank while two medical technicians arranged Joe in his.

He held a torcher's contempt for the vast distance itself. Older pilots thought of interplanetary trips with a rocketman's bias, in terms of years—trips that a torchship with steady acceleration covered in days.

Technovelgy from Sky Lift, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Imagination in 1953
Additional resources -

Another (more complete) description comes from Heinlein's later novel Double Star:

"The Can Do - that's this bucket - is about to rendezvous with the Go For Broke, which is a high-gee torchship. About seventeen seconds and a gnat's wink after we make contact the Go For Broke will torch for Mars - for we've got to be there by Wednesday."

See Bussard ramjet for a form of propulsion capable of even higher speeds.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Sky Lift
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Sky Lift
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

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