Introduction


Since the beginning of time, mankind has considered it as an expression of its Earthly weakness and inadequacy to be bound to the Earth, to be unable to free itself from the mysterious shackles of gravity. Not without good reason then has the concept of the transcendental always been associated with the idea of weightlessness, the power "to be able freely to rise into the sky." And most people even today still take it as a dogma that it is indeed unthinkable for Earthly beings ever to be able to escape the Earth. Is this point of view really justified?

Keep in mind: just a few decades ago, the belief indelibly impressed upon us was widespread that it is foolhardy to hope that we would ever be able to speed through the air like the birds. And today! In the face of this and similar superb proofs of the capability of science and technology, should mankind not dare now to tackle the last transportation problem for which a solution still eludes us: the problem of space travel? And logically: in the last few years, the "technical dream," which to date was only the stuff of fanciful novels, has become a "technical question" examined in the dispassionate works of scholars and engineers using all the support of mathematical, physical and technical knowledge and--has been deemed solvable.


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