Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"The point sticks in your head: physics rules. Virtue does not triumph unless the physics allows it."
- Larry Niven

Gravity Assist  
  Using the gravity and orbital speed of a celestial body to change speed and course of a spacecraft.  

These "manoeuvres" were an essential part of the earliest visits to the outer solar system.

In the book, an Earth spaceship by Martian brigands who are determined to get their hands on the Moon's one key resource, radiactum. Radiactum was "the catalyst mineral which was revolutionising industry."

We were at this time no more than some sixty-five thousand miles from the moon's surface. The Planetara presently would swing upon her direct course for Mars. There was nothing that would cause passenger comment in this close passing of the moon; normally we used the satellite's attraction to give us additional starting speed.
From Brigands of the Moon, by Ray Cummings.
Published by Astounding Stories of Super Science in 1930
Additional resources -

The mathematics of the manner in which the orbits of comets were altered by close approaches to planets was known in the late eighteenth century. However, this idea was not applied to space craft until much later.

In the early nineteen-twenties, Walter Hohmann demonstrated that the lowest energy path between any two planets is an ellipse that is tangential to the orbits of both the planets. However, no rockets existed until the 1960's that were powerful enough to generate the initial thrust, and a minimum energy orbit would take thirty years from Earth to Neptune - and forty years to Pluto.

To the best of my knowledge, the concept of "gravity assist" as a means of altering the speed or course of a spacecraft was apparently not discovered by the scientific world until some 20 years after the publication of Cummings' novel. In a footnote A C Clarke indicates the first ref he's aware of was the paper "Perturbation Manoeuvres" by Derek Lawden (Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, vol 13, no 5, Sept 1954). Lawden is a mathematician, and in the early fifties worked on the optimization of rocket trajectories. It is also reported that a summer intern at JPL in 1961, Michael A. Minovitch, showed that the gravity field of a planet could provide thrust to a spacecraft. He demonstrated that careful design of the trajectory to a target planet could provide a gravity assist to move from that planet to a second planet.

Historians of science still differ on this issue.

Thanks to an alert reader for this item!

Comment/Join this discussion ( 2 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Brigands of the Moon
  More Ideas and Technology by Ray Cummings
  Tech news articles related to Brigands of the Moon
  Tech news articles related to works by Ray Cummings

Gravity Assist-related news articles:
  - Gravity Assist Will Help Pluto-Bound Craft
  - The Amazing Gravity-Assisted Journey Of Rosetta

Articles related to Space Tech
Orbital Display's Low Earth Orbit Advertisements
Trillionaires Still Earth-Bound
Grow Plants On Moon Or Mars!
Microbot Interstellar von Neumann Explorers

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

More News

Orbital Display's Low Earth Orbit Advertisements
'A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'

Neuromorphic Computing Hardare
'He had constructed an organ, a brain, of metal, entirely inorganic and lifeless...'

Trillionaires Still Earth-Bound
'I shall never forget the sight... when the yellow gleam of the precious metal appeared under the star dust.'

Digit V2 Bipedal Robot From Agility Robotics
Oh, and now I suppose someone will develop the robotic porch pirate.

3D Printed Dubai Building Is World's Largest
'This thing will start at one end of ...a house and build it complete to the other end, following drawings only.'

Grow Plants On Moon Or Mars!
'In contrast to the airless desolation outside, the interior of this five-acre greenhouse was the one most desirable place to be.'

California Gets Shockwave Rider-Style Avoidance Zones
'It was cheaper to pay the refugees to go without up-to-the-minute equipment.'

Microbot Interstellar von Neumann Explorers
'Evidently they have never had a planet of their own...'

Hail SmartCan! Your Trash Bin Takes Itself Out
'...a waste can twenty feet away stirred into life.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.