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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1997 a2 Sn “Sl. SPACE PROPULSION: Can Empty SPACE ITSELF PROVIDE A SOLUTION? s Profound Implications for the Future of Spaceflight BY H. E, PUTHOFF SPACE SUMMIT FORUM Mars and the Future of the U.S. Space Program a2 mee ot NSS StATEMENT OF Mars Pouicy 1° INTERNATIONAL LUNAR AND Mars EXPLORATION CONFERENCE Life in Space: Past, Present and Future BY PAT DASCH Itz Lire IN THE UNIVERSE Syraposiura on the Significance of the Mars Findings BY DAVID LOGSDON Zze& WATER EROSION ON MARS There is Widespread Evidence for the Presence of Water on Mars in the Past but re bas all the Water Gone? BY MICHAEL H. CARR 2 CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE Z3o 2 LETTERS VIRTUAL PRESENCE: ONE STEP BEYOND REALITY © NES INACTION Robot Turns Planetary Geologist 14 MISSION CONTROL BY NANCY ANN BUDDEN az SPACE BASICS se so CHAPTERS BREAKING THROUGH To THE STARS sbaCkbanine The Search for Technologies in Interstellar Propulsion BY MARCG. MILLIS AD ASTRA, which the Moto Space Sex “oy furthering the explrton and development of pce. Or bi Wy AD ASTRA of many NSS _spaceforing civilization, For more information on NSS call membership group dedi Space Propu THE LAUNCH OF 4 MIGHTY ROCKET is truly an awe-inspiring sight. As it strains against the twin forces of gravity and inertia, we can only marvel at the progress we have made in our attempt to throw off the shackles that bind mankind to Earth But contemplation of the sheer expenditure of energy in such a launch must also make us wonder whether we will ever colonize even the closest planet, let alone travel to the stars. Although vari mp q ous propositions to surmount the difficulties invalved have been put forward, we cannot help bur hope that the brute force solu tions we apply coday will one day be replaced by alternatives we SPACE sen ey ae Surprisingly enough, there are hints that potential help may emerge quite literally out of the vacuum of so-called “empty space’ itself, the very medium we wish to conquer. Quantum the S e ory lu tha empoy space not ub am bot tater the seat of myriad energetic quantum processes that could have pro- found émplications for future space travel. To understand these 7 implications it will serve us to detour for a moment to review Pp briefly the historical development of the scientific view of what ‘Ac the time of the Greck philosophers, Democritus argued that empty space was truly 4 void, otherwise there would not be room ‘on the other hand, argued . for atoms £0 move around. Aristo equally forcefully that what appeared to be empty space was in fact a plenum {a background filled with substance), for did nor neat and light travel from place to place as if carried by some kind of medium? ‘The argument went back and forth through the centuries until finally codified by Maxwell’ theory of the luminiferous ether, a plenum that cartied electromagnetic waves, includin as water carries waves across a lake. Attempts to measure the BY H E Puthof properties of this ether, ot to measure the Earth's velocity through vu. the ether (as in the famiaus Michelson- Morley experime ever, met with failure, Wit the tise of special relativity, which did not require reference to such an underlying substrate, Einstein in 1905 effectively banished the ether in favor of the concept that empty space constitutes a true void. Ten years later, however, Einstein's own development of the general theory of relativity JAMUARY/ FEBRUARY 1997 42 aD astRA maging tothe Edge of Space and Tine, an acrylic panting by James L. Cunning, Aatwork produced under the ASK At Program, Sion: with its concept of curved geometry, forced him to reverse his stand and opt for a richly endowed plenum, under the new label spacetime metric It was the advent of modem quantum theory: however, that established the quancum vacuum, so-called empty space, a a very active place, with patticls arising and disappearing, a vietual plas ma, and fields continuo\ their zero baseline values. called zero-point fluctuations (ZPE) of the vacu um, reflecting the fact that such activity remains even at the zero point of temperature (absolute zer0) afterall thermal effects have frozen out Empty Space as an Energy Reservoir What does all this have to do with space trav el? At its most fundamental level, we now recog nize that che quantum ¥ resetvoir of untapped energy, with nergy densi ties conservatively estimated by Nobelist Feynman and others to be on the order of eater: Therefore, the mined” for practical use? If so, it would constitute a virtually supply, a veritable “Holy nuclear energy densities o question is, can the ZPF energy be ubiquitous energ Grail” energy source for space propulsion. ‘As utopian as such a possibility may scem researcher Robert F Laboratories, Malibu, CA, demonstrated proof of-principle in a paper published in Physica R closely spaced metal plates, named for its discov eres, H.G.B. Casimir of Philips Laboratories in ies from partial shielding of the interior region of the the Nethetlands, The Casimir force de space and distorted fluctuating about uch processes are ward at Hughes Research w B in 1984, “Extracting Electrical Energy from the Vacuum by Cohesion of Charged Foliated Conductors.” Forward’s approach exploited a phenomenon called the Casimir Effect, an attractive quantum force between Pat 1s ear odpm JAnUARY/ FEBRUARY sn