We were talking today about realistic space travel in a computer game. I studied this as part of my degree course. There are a few good books on the subject.
Starflight Handbook: Pioneer’s Guide to Interstellar Travel (Wiley Science Editions)
This is retro style spaceflight with bells. It covers the engineering humanity really could do ( if we had the cash. ).The standard interstellar designs are discussed in an easy to read style with some maths for those who want it.
Starsailing: Solar Sails and Interstellar Travel
Louis Friedman is the executive director of the planetary society, which he co-founded with Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray. He worked at NASA’s famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory on various projects including the solar sailing project.
The book is easy to read taking you through the history and design of solar sails. It shows the basics of navigation to other planets and even a design for an interstellar probe.
2001 Nights is a beautifully illustrated Manga pulished in 1984. It consists of several loosely connected short stories, all taking place in the same timeline, with the whole series spanning several hundred years. Many of the stories are related to each other (even across books), each building upon the achievements of the previous ones. The stories are often (but not always) scientifically plausible, recalling a lot of the early science fiction of the 1950 and 1960 eras.
100,000 stars is an fun interactive 3d map of our stellar neighbourhood. Created for the Google Chrome web browser. It shows the location of 119,617 nearby stars derived from multiple sources, including the 1989 Hipparcos mission. Zooming in reveals 87 individually identified stars and our solar system. The galaxy view is an artist’s rendition based on NGC 1232, a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way.
The British Interplanetary Society
The British Interplanetary Society (BIS) was founded in 1933 promotes the exploration of space and astronautics. The BIS is an independent charity, and has finance a variety of interesting paper studies on possilbe starship designs.
The Society’s first definitive paper on the requirements for Interstellar Travel appeared in JBIS as long ago as 1952. In the late 1970s a group of members worked together on the design of a possible interstellar vehicle that was published in 1981 as the Daedalus Study. From this followed many papers concerned with communications with extraterrestrial intelligences (SETI) and associated studies.
It’s worth trying to locate copies of the Journal of the British Interplantary Society. If you can deal with the science they’re very informative.
Icarus Interstellar is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to achieving interstellar flight by the year 2100. They are working on a pulsed fusion propulsion design inspired by Daedalus.