I've spent the weekend working out some ideas on the practicality of commercial spaceflight. Being a RPG designer, my main concern must of course be getting PCs around my setting in a practical fashion. As a Hard SF aficionado, my concern is to make such an unlikely situation seem remotely plausible. The two rarely go together.
Relax. This is where the fun begins.
First of all, the L-Drive itself is only plausible as a propulsion system under certain circumstances. For flying around like a conventional aircraft, it works great, no fuel cost, no problem! For actually attaining orbital speeds and altitudes, there are a few caveats. The L-Drive spacecraft must launch without the propellant it will use once in space on board. This is a hard necessity; the weight of the propellant is 75% of the rocket's total mass, and launching all that dead weight from surface when you aren't going to use it is simply too impractical to consider. Don't panic; a rocket can carry enough fuel for orbit changes the same as the Space Shuttle does, and if you need to leave orbit for points West you can gas up in space, with the cost of said propellant already factored into ticket costs.
|Right idea, wrong Airline.|
|Most common of all...|
|That's no moon, it's a gas station!|
As the week continues, we will look more at these idea, culminating with an example traveler going from Terra to Mars, and changing planes along the way. Until then, have a good one, RocketFans!
Note: Caption links go to the websites where I found the pictures. This is meant to give credit, not as additional information to the post.