Riding in Hyperion's Chariot
"Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire!" - Metallica
Just as the scattered frontier towns of the American west were linked together by the railroads, humanity's distant colonies on Mars and in the asteroid belt will eventually be linked by swift spaceliners driven by controlled nuclear fusion. Voyages which once took many months by mass-drivers and cycling habitats will be reduced to a few weeks or even days.
Above is a photo of my scratchbuilt model of a large, fusion-driven space vessel. To give an idea of the ship's size, the photo shows a transport rocket from Earth preparing to dock with the space cruiser. Like my "homesteader's" ship, this space vessel is less science fiction and more serious speculation. The design is based on the Project Daedalus pulse-fusion interstellar propulsion scheme studied extensively by the British Interplanetary Society in the 1970s. The pulse-fusion drive's operation is shown in the diagram at right from The Space Traveller's Handbook by Michael Freeman. The ship is fuelled by pellets of deuterium and helium-3 extracted from lunar soil. The pellets are injected into the firing chamber and detonated by multiple laser beams to produce thrust.
The photograph of the model featured on this page was taken by Free Trader using a Nikon F2 Photomic SLR in natural outdoor light.