Oct 302012

An illustration I found somewhere online showing a spaceship drawing for “Amazing Stories,” 1938. At first glance, it’s pretty much the stereotypical spaceship from the 1930s… bullet-shaped, with curved tailfins, lots of rivets or bolts, rocket “tubes” and a dearth of adequate propellant volume. On closer examination, it has some interesting features.

The rocket engines use hydrogen and oxygen for propellants. Onboard storage volume is tragically pathetic, but the propulsion system is otherwise interesting. Instead of a steady-state rocket engine of the type normally used, this vehicle uses a pulse detonation system, sort of a chemical Orion. Such a system would have notably higher specific impulse than the conventional rocket, at the expense of lower average thrust, greater dead weight and a rough ride. But even with that higher Isp, performance is going to be pathetic with those few small propellant tanks.

The interior include a centrifuge that takes up a good deal of the volume of the craft. Much like the centrifuge on “2001: A Space Odyssey’s” USS Discovery, this would allow the crew to operate more or less normally on long duration trips. Unlike pretty much every centrifuge ever, this one include massive magnets used for… something. Additionally, it’s not entirely clear that the artist had a good grasp of the acceleration vectors… it would seem that the tables and chairs in the “dining room” are on the walls, not the floor.

It has what look like turreted cannon, but these are in fact “steering rocket tubes.” They would provide adequate degrees of freedom for proper attitude control.

 Posted by at 12:21 am
  • Jason B.

    Looking as closely as I can at the dining area, the tables and chairs appear to be seen from “above”, so they’d be on the outer wall of the centrifuge, ie: the “floor” as the centrifuge spins.

  • Winchell Chung

    I’m with Jason B, I think the artist got the perspective wrong, the tables and chairs are on the far side of the centrifuge outer walls.

    Offhand I’d hazard a guess that the S Magnetic Gravity Rotors is the titanic electric motor that revs up or revs down the centrifuge. Seems to me they could have gotten away with a smaller motor. That monster will yank the steel fillings right out of the passenger’s teeth.

    I’ve got a larger image of this on my website


  • Michael the Somewhat Civilized

    You gotta start somewhere. I wonder if anyone of whom we have heard found this interesting.

  • cosmist

    “pulse detonation system, sort of a chemical Orion”.

    Well It reminds me very much of the V1 pulse jet engine. Might have sound the same…

  • publiusr

    Very few ships are depicted with adequate tankage–even Discovery herself–as lovely as she looked–lacked in this regard. There were artists conceptions that had much larger tanks–but were ugly.

    Now an NSWR might get away with that look, assuming it didn’t melt, and with high thrust and Isp both could move at will. Maybe a pulsed NSWR? Then at last you might have the Orbit Jet.

    Something I was thinking about. Imagine a wormhole somehow transported to an alternate universe just after its big bang. There, that whole hot, expanding universe is your fuel tank, and your stargate is the nozzle. Just the thing to fill those pesky voids on your transgalactic journey, with perhaps, actual stars seeded in your wake.