Escape dynamics aims to eliminate single use rockets in space flight
Recently, SpaceX has gained enormous renown by promising to reuse the rockets as well. “If we become the biggest launch company in the world, making money hand over fist, but we’re still not reusable, I will consider us to have failed,” CEO Elon Musk has said in typical bombastic fashion.
commercial space exploration, space travel, escape dynamics, external propulsionThere’s a lesser-known company quietly at work at a private airport in Broomfield, Colorado, with an even bolder aspiration. Escape Dynamics is proposing that we do away with fiery rockets altogether in order to make a much more dramatic attack on the exorbitant cost of space flight.
“We want to look at a next-gen technology, not an improvement on chemical combustion, to drive a 10x change in the way we access Earth’s orbit,” said Dmitriy Tseliakhovich, reflecting some of the language he picked up as an admirer of Peter Diamandis and an alum of Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program.
“Chemical propulsion simply does not allow for a small and simple launch vehicle. There is a fundamental physical limit on how efficient chemical rockets can become,” Tseliakhovich had concluded by 2010, when he launched Escape Dynamics. About 2 percent of the weight of a vehicle launched today is payload, Tseliakhovich says.
Escape Dynamics would propel spacecraft with energy transmitted in a microwave beam that tracks the vehicle’s ascent trajectory. The energy, caught with an antenna, would run through a heat exchanger before being pushed out of a thruster. Tseliakhovich first sketched out the method as part of the Ph.D. in astrophysics he received from Caltech in 2010.