How we will finally reach the moon (1908)

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Gravitation is a thing not of earth, but really of ether itself. Gravitation depends on mass and motion, which would render the projectile actually under control by the laws of nature. The movement of the projectile is simply analogous to one of these falling or erratic stars, that result from disruptive explosion and which become visible only when being set on fire as they strike the friction element of the atmosphere of earth in falling.

Ether’s movement is directed in straight lines toward the spheres, so anything projected into it would swing into such lines of direction and would scour out its courses in such paths unless controlled by inward energy.

With a propulsive regenerative energy imparted to the projectile, it can wend its way through the thinner ether for an indefinite space, the resistances being lightened. It will proceed under electrical control until it approaches the realm of the moon, where gravity is much less than the earth, its gravity weight, or mass, being one-sixth less. Reaching the moon, its energy exhausted, it would fall gently on peak or vale without creating much of a jar or jolt.

It is assumed in relation to the movement of the projectile that outside of the sphere of earth’s gravity, it would be controlled or held in its course by a rudder and screw, which would be propelled by the electric energy of its dynamos. This involves a new problem in electrical transmission — a problem already in the way of solution. Experiments are in progress which suggest the probability of creating enormous electrical waves, generated by the force of Niagara. It is the dream of the inventor to employ these wireless waves in supplying electric current at vast distances by merely tapping the wave currents. By means of a huge Marconi transmuter installed at Niagara, electrical energy from which is already carried 3,000 miles with success in telegraphy, the projectile car’s dynamos could easily draw the necessary current or propulsive power to direct its course through the ether, which of itself is a nonresistant to electrical energy.

“When the truth, accidentally revealed and experimentally confirmed,” says Nikola Tesla, in referring to the wireless telephone, which involves the principle of electric waves, “is finally realized that this planet, with all its appalling immensity as to electric currents, is virtually no more than a small metal ball, there will be no such thing as distance to disturb our peace of mind.”

The actual time required for passage of the projectile from the earth to the moon is conjectured, but it would surely be less than 10 days, which is the time asserted by Professor Dodge in which an uncontrolled body, released from the earth’s gravity, would be able to cover the distance.

Mathematics and mechanics

To reach the moon, then, on the basis of lunar ballistics, is merely a question for the mathematician, the electrician and the mechanical engineer. It is a matter of figures that will mark their cabalistic calculations on the tablets of time as the old fellow proceeds to greater marvels and more wisdom, which entitles us to speculate in detail according to the knowledge we already have, at last. The powers of electricity mediumized by radiumating force will make the propulsion of the huge 270-ton projectile silent, vibrationless, straightway to the moon.

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What would the exact size of this projectile be?

To facilitate to the best advantage all known experimental science in the service of this trip to the moon, the projectile would be equipped like the submarine boat Octopus. Its length would be 100 feet and its beam 12 feet.

The cost of the projectile would be a trifle less than $1,000,000. The weight of the projectile would be 270 tons, and it would have the complete mechanical equipment of a submarine. The tanks which are used in a submarine to govern its buoyancy would serve the same purpose in the aerial projectile, being filled with air, which would be released according to the resistance encountered in’ the projectile’s initial flight of 250 miles. Once hurled beyond the gravity zone of the earth, it would encounter no gravitation to displace its weight. A mountain or a gnat become of equal weight, moving in ether at the same speed as the molecules that are thrown off from the earth’s atmosphere, a speed of seven miles an hour. The projectile, its hood once closed, would imprison the operating crew and the scientists in an airtight compartment. They would be thenceforth completely shut off from the world.

Would it be safe?

According to the captain of a submarine there would “no call for nervousness.” There would be no defects to fear in the machinery, no rigging to strain, no sails to carry away, no boiler to burst, no fire to break out, no concern about the weather. Its electrical appliances would supply heat, light and propulsive power sufficient to keep it moving through space. A 75 horsepower motor would be sufficient for this purpose. Electric stoves would cook a supply of food as well as any restaurant could provide. A reserve supply of compressed air would be carried in flasks. Every 36 hours, the foul air could be exhausted and renewed from the fresh air flasks. In this way, there would be room enough in the projectile to store enough compressed air to live 45 days.

There would be no startling sensations after the projectile had made its first dive into space from the muzzle of the lunar cannon, excepting the new sights and surprising observations from the portholes.

But the first leap from the lunar cannon!

A projectile from a 12-inch rifle shoots into the air at the rate of 30,000 feet a second. It would not be essential to the success of the lunar projectile’s flight to exceed the speed of a navy gun. for at that rate the lunar car would penetrate the earth’s zone of gravity in less than an hour.

A problem of prime importance is the safety of the car’s passengers at the moment of the discharge of the lunar gun. In view of the nature and size of the huge instrument, the solution is not so difficult as it would seem.

A unique project

The construction of the lunar gun itself gives it a character unlike any other piece of ordnance in existence. Of such a tremendous size, the gun would necessarily be cast in parts and built in a manner not dissimilar to the sections of great drainage tubes or subway structures. Enormous electrical cranes, such as are used in Panama, could easily shift these sections upon steel scaffolding, where they would be riveted and joined, much as were the segments of the Manhattan bridge over the East River or the “stories” of the Singer Building, which was made a compact structure 400 feet in the air by the electric welding of its component parts. The shell or case of the lunar gun, once completed, would be reinforced by enormous sheets of steel electrically welded, making it at last one solid piece of metal. Around this great tube of 700 feet in length would be wound endless miles of wire, thus forming it into a sectional dynamo of vast proportions and of hitherto undreamed of power.

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The gun itself would rest upon a gigantic carriage of heavy structural steel, so stayed and supported upon concrete caissons that its steadiness and accuracy of fire would be insured. As the wire that surrounds the gun would be perfectly insulated and store the electric force that would “fire” the projectile, each magnetic section connected with a magnetic section inside, its final release into the first magnetic section would mark the second when the shot would occur. Thus the men in the projectile car would not be subject to destruction by the force of concussion. They would only be called upon to provide shock absorbers for the initial moment of the turning on of the current into the first section, the projectile gathering impetus as it traveled with increased force along the bore of the gun, passing from section to section with increased rapidity. Heavy rubber air-inflated cushions of varying resistance would be employed to take up the force of the shock, and as the speed of the projectile for some distance would increase rather than diminish, there would be no rebound.

Scientists who have dwelt upon the thought of erecting a lunar gun and sending a projectile car to the moon have suggested that Central Park would be an ideal spot for the construction of such a great enterprise.

Let us then imagine the completion of all the mechanism for the project. The vast electrical energy of Niagara Falls, or the entire plant of the subway, elevated and surface roads, some 200,000 horsepower, would be turned into the coil of the lunar gun. The projectile car would be hoisted into the breech of the gun to its place against the inner magazine, and astronomers and scientists from all parts of the world would form a consulting board to aim the gun so that its car in a 10 days flight would land in the vicinity of the moon. Hundreds of thousands of people would be assembled from various parts of the world.

What a thrill would be experienced and what a shout would go up when the bells of the city clanged and the whistles of the factories and steamers shrieked at the rocket signal that the current of 100,000,000 voltage had been turned into the magnets of the lunar gun!

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