During Eighties the modern aerospace principles were set. Before they were still the same defined by the ancient Chinese, since the black powder discovery. All of these principle rely on a single, consolidated, sacrosanct dynamic law: the reactive force..
Based on these principle we arrived, somehow to atmospheric supersonic propulsion and satellites send here and there in our solar system (and beyond).
Still during Eighties, the Russian engineer Tsiolkowsky (which, by the way was the same to define the propulsion principles actually allowing us to fly still today) defined the 15 steps required for the “cosmonaut development program”:
- Arranged rocket for flight training on it.
- Subsequent aircraft wings are reduced, speed increase.
- Penetrate very close atmosphere.
- Flights above the atmosphere and low-gravity planning.
- Create satellites that return to Earth after the flight.
- Satellites are settled around the Earth, but can come back to Earth.
- Provide breathing and feeding cosmonauts by plants.
- Landing modules, satellites for broadcasting and connection.
- Widely used greenhouses to ensure the independence of man from the Earth.
- Arranging of extensive settlements around the Earth.
- Use solar energy, not only for a comfortable life, but also to move through the solar system (Solar sails).
- Founded the colony in the asteroid belt and other places of the solar system.
- Develop and expand the number of space colonies.
- The population of the Solar system is multiplied. Settling around the Milky Way starts.
- Sun is cooling down. Mankind is removed to other Suns.
As usual below my humble, free and lovely useless comments:
- Done. The concept of flight training is now a sort of video gaming…
- Done. Two or more wings planes are not common any more and supersonic planes have relatively reduced wings
- Done. Almost at any altitude and also with or without planes…
- Done. Should I mention any manned low Earth orbit mission?
- Done. Should I mention the space shuttle?
- Done. Should I mention the MIR, Space Station or the Tiangong?
- Almost done. We are working on it. Astronauts do not yet eat plants, but they cultivated them in space.
- Done. Done. Done. Extensively.
- Not done. Actually from now our achievements did’t reach yet the Tsiolkowsky’s targets. We are still far from reaching any of the following points and even working on them, with our current propulsion principles knowledge, it seems unrealistic to target all of them.
Let’s say that we have rather good chances of setting up space colonies and use solar sails, but I’m rather skeptical that we have any other option (at the moment?) than staying around our Sun. The last two points, in particular, do not seem to me (only?) actually feasible within a human being lifetime (… unless we reach such evolution stages).
I can not avoid, however, to note how accurate the Tsiolkowsky predictions were until today (I’m talking about someone which was able to tell these stuffs in a century when noting man-made wasn’t moving above our heads), thus I should at least assume that he can not be completely wrong regarding what will happen in future.
This is the only reason motivating me to leave a glimmer in believing in propulsion systems other than action-reaction (here I should list a rather long list of potential/Iwanttobelieve/flyingsaucer/bullshit/semi-bullshit ideas and technologies).