Unconventional Rocket Drives


The fall of 2010 will mark the 53rd anniversary of mankind’s first foray into space. Since the first unmanned satellite Sputnik I was launched, the romanticism surrounding space travel has led to the launch of many more spacecrafts, each embarking on different missions. Mankind has too explored the feasibility of other rocket drives to help push the frontier in space. In this report, we have explored seven different unconventional rocket propulsion drives. From the realistic to the seemingly impossible, they have been detailed and evaluated meaningfully in the preceding chapters. Undoubtedly, all of them deliver a range of exciting possibilities and prospects for future space travel. Yet many of them are at present unfeasible, be it due to the incapability of current technology or due to politically or economically charged reasons. Our group feels that this can be changed.

Through this project, our group has seen the might of the various space agencies of the world. From NASA to the European Space Agency to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, each has its own niche in certain rocket drives. However, we feel that the best utilisation of our existing knowledge to expedite the actualisation of future drives can only come from an integration of all space agencies. This would allow the sharing of invaluable experience across agencies. Such discussions could lend helpful ideas that can be useful across differing rocket drive systems.

Our group would also like to make a salient point. With the universe in the equation, mankind will be judged as an entity by its greatest achievement and not by the achievements of its strongest member. For progress out of Earth, a place where all humans collectively call home, there has to be a united effort by all mankind. Our group believes that if there was ever an opportunity for all the governments of the world to work together, this would be it. This shift in vested interest away from individual countries would definitely help alleviate the political pressure against nuclear propulsion research, which if harnessed, will offer an immense pool of energy. In addition, the huge increase in the availability of funds would allow deeper research into the Mach Effect and antimatter drives, which could well offer the best mode of interstellar travel.

In addition, it is in our opinion that while technology is a big impediment, it should not be a reason for the non-usage of a particular drive, especially when scalability is a determining factor. A scaled down version could be implemented on existing spacecrafts to augment current chemically propelled spacecrafts. While a solar sail spacecraft has never been successfully launched, solar sails have been used onboard existing spacecrafts to assist in trajectory corrections and geostationary operations. In a similar manner, solar thermal or nuclear pulse propulsion ideas could be implemented on a small scale to help relief the weight of fuel carried by existing spacecrafts.

In conclusion, mankind has come a long way since the launch of Sputnik I. The dream to travel to the stars will remain as a large motivating factor for the search for faster and more efficient ways to travel through space. Should a concerted effort be made to realise some of these unconventional drives, the dream may well come true in the near future. And when the day comes, reaching the stars would not come just as an achievement; it would more importantly be a showcase of the maturity of humanity.


We would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Thomas Clarke for offering us advice along the course of this project. His guidance had no doubt contributed to the successful production of our website and report.