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Envisioning Starship Earth Travel - In 1930 By Max Valier

In a detailed article appearing in Air Wonder Stories in 1930, rocket scientist and science fiction author Max Valier describes an incredibly fast trip from New York city to Berlin in just one hour.

The engineers of SpaceX have a similar vision:


(Starship point to point on Earth)

Here's how Max Valier describes a trans-oceanic rocket ship:

I want to state, however, that it is no “speed mania” which impels me to set the traveling time so low ; but it is a matter of the technical and economic necessities.

The ascent of the rocket machine will probably not be so wildly romantic as writers on space travel are accustomed to describe it. A rate of acceleration which almost crushes the passengers is not thought of, because it will be impossible, for a long time hence, to operate a rocket-propelled flying machine with a greater starting force than 80 tons — equivalent to the weight of the plane. Since one-fourth of this force is used to overcome air resistance, and another fourth in sending the machine upward (supported, as it were, by the air) at an average slope of 1 :4, there remains for the acceleration at the beginning a propulsive force equal to only forty tons, or half the starting weight. This would permit no greater increase in speed per second than is possible in a powerful motor car. It is only later in the flight, when the weight has been’ greatly decreased by the consumption of fuel, that we can attain really great speeds, and an acceleration equal to that of gravity; but even this, for the passengers, will be hardly more thrilling than the enjoyment experienced in a roller coaster.


('Berlin to New York in One Hour' by Max Valier)

To ascend to the proper altitude and acquire the maximum horizontal speed would take about five minutes. The ship in this time would cover a horizontal distance of about 400 kilometers (248 miles). Adding the 1,900 kilometers of glide, makes 2,300 kilometers; which leaves, of the entire distance of 7,200 kilometers (4,474 miles) only 4,900 kilometers (3,044 miles) of horizontal travel. At a speed of 2,000 meters a second, this will be covered in 2,450 seconds, or 41 minutes. Therefore, the total flying time from Berlin to New York is calculated at one hour and six minutes.

From the technical standpoint, the most vital question is, whether sufficient fuel can be carried. There is needed, in the initial stretch, power not only to overcome air resistance, and to lift the machine, but also to give an average speed of about 2,500 meters a second. With present available fuels, this means that, with 80 tons starting weight, only 46 tons will reach the beginning of the horizontal stretch at the 50 kilometer altitude, 34 tons already having been used up in fuel. Then, at the start of the horizontal stretch of 4,900 kilometers, we have still available the 24 tons of fuel which are needed to cover this distance. This assumes that the rocket gases have an expulsion speed of 4,500 meters a second, which is actually attainable. The ship then enters the glide weighing only 22 tons.

Max Valier died in a laboratory accident at a young age, working on rocket fuels. His vision still inspires us:

In conclusion, let me ask: Why should we strive to reach those heights, which are as full of icy horror as the world is of living warmth ? Why must we travel ever faster in a seemingly insatiable desire to conquer space and time?

The answer is simple.

The answer is that living means fighting, not sleeping and dreaming — a word of double significance. Progress, for the human race, is possible only through the ever-increasing achievements of science.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/17/2022)

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