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Let's say you have magical unlimited delta-v, but very low thrust-to-weight ratio. You could travel by accelerating constantly for half the trip, then braking for the other half, until your arrival.

I remember someone describing this maneuver and using a name, but I can't remember the name or find any references. What is it called?

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  • $\begingroup$ What you're talking about sounds a lot like an interstellar solar sail. Is that it, or are you using a conventional propulsion method? $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Aug 26 '14 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ Well... it could be a solar sail. The propulsion method is irrelevant. What matters is that delta-v is unlimited or practically unlimited. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Werneck Aug 26 '14 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ In that case, @RussellBorogove's answer is definitely the right one. Good question. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Aug 26 '14 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ Imagine the constant acceleration to be 1g. No more worries about artificial gravity! $\endgroup$ – SF. Aug 28 '14 at 10:02
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That's a brachistochrone or constant-acceleration trajectory; Heinlein was fond of it and called the turnover the "skew-flip maneuver".

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  • $\begingroup$ That's it! That name is hard to remember. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Werneck Aug 26 '14 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ If I recall correctly, the "skew-flip maneuver" was a curved path designed to maintain a constant 1-G on-board acceleration during turnover. A simpler alternative would be to turn off the engines, rotate the ship, and restart the engines. Reasons for the skew-flip might include the comfort of the passengers and concern about being able to restart the engines. $\endgroup$ – Keith Thompson Aug 26 '14 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ See: mathworld.wolfram.com/BrachistochroneProblem.html for another origin for the weird word... $\endgroup$ – DJohnM Aug 27 '14 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ Heinlein called it a Skew Flip Turnover: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skew_flip_turnover $\endgroup$ – sneak Aug 29 '14 at 1:46

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