Interesting take on using fusion to power a rocket engine

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
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Mike Beauford
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Interesting take on using fusion to power a rocket engine

Post by Mike Beauford » Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:13 pm

Mike Beauford

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Chris Bradley
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Re: Interesting take on using fusion to power a rocket engine

Post by Chris Bradley » Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:21 pm

... of interest to..? ... science fiction writers, or those seeking Government gravy-train tickets..?

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Richard Hull
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Re: Interesting take on using fusion to power a rocket engine

Post by Richard Hull » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:45 pm

Indeed! "Publish or perish" is replaced by "have a project or starve" in today's economy.

The idea was well questioned and poo-poo'd by any number of seemingly competent voices in the commentary following the piece.

It could happen, but only provided a very good governmental cash stream is connected to it, of course!

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
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Re: Interesting take on using fusion to power a rocket engine

Post by kcdodd » Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:17 am

It's really putting the cart before the horse. It would be like Goddard designing a chemical rocket before steam power had been invented.

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Re: Interesting take on using fusion to power a rocket engin

Post by Benjamin Abbatiello » Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:53 pm

Then again, this is the appropriate section for threads such as this. An interesting take on how humans could harness the power of fusion to make a leap forward in our application of this science.
It is a great act of cleverness to be able to conceal one's being clever.
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Re: Interesting take on using fusion to power a rocket engin

Post by Tom McCarthy » Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:39 pm

Didn't that Monroe Lee King Jr have a lot of interest in this sort of thing? He's disappeared for the last while, but wasn't he switching over from trying to produce chemical rockets to fusion rockets? "Prometheus Labs" was his organization, I believe.

Tom

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Re: Interesting take on using fusion to power a rocket engin

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:09 pm

Many folks here are transitory in nature. They find that what they want to do is just not possible at their level of funding, knowledge or skills and move on. There is nothing wrong with that. We just try and make sure they understand the limitations of fusion. The big limitation, of course, is that it has never been done to produce any usable energy. Rockets and space vehicles are all about the efficient use of energy that is already in hand and well understood. (Unless we are willing to place the cart far ahead of the horse, which is never very realisitic and tends to end in tears.)

I would think that getting real energy out of fusion would be a nice start, rather than planning missions to the Moon or Proxima Centauri using it.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Re: Interesting take on using fusion to power a rocket engin

Post by Paul_Schatzkin » Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:22 pm

"I would think that getting real energy out of fusion would be a nice start, rather than planning missions to the Moon or Proxima Centauri using it."

Where's a "Like" button when you need one?

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Re: Interesting take on using fusion to power a rocket engin

Post by Frank Sanns » Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:37 pm

Man cannot travel outside of our solar system with any form of energy known to man. Velocity alone is not enough to do it. Even at speeds 10,000 times faster than man has ever gone in space, it would take nearly 20 years to get to Proxima Centauri which is only 4 light years away. Start multiplying by factors of ten or a hundred to get to the the next nearest stars which now becomes many multiple generations just to get to the stars that are really close. If we ever travel outside of our solar system, it will not by going fast with any fuel known or unknown to man. Until new understandings of physics can be applied, we are stuck on this rock.

There are also some significant problems with their claims. For one, : "a small grain of sand of this material has the same energy content as 1 gallon of rocket fuel." If mass is being converted to energy, this should read, a grain of sand equals a rail car (or more) of rocket fuel.

"Slough's concept uses a strong magnetic field to contain the fusion fuel and guide it safely away from the spacecraft and any passengers within." It is great that the fusion fuel moves away from the space craft. Now who is going to tell them that the neutrons that would be produced will be going out equally in all directions including towards the space ship occupants,

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Re: Interesting take on using fusion to power a rocket engin

Post by Mark Stockman » Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:57 am

As I commented on another forum, they're going to need a LOT of those little lithium rings, as well as a HUGE power supply.

As to existing rocket technology, the VASMIR plasma thruster is an interesting concept, developed from fusion research. Its downside is the power requirement- the current version draws 200 KW. As always, you need an extremely compact, efficient power supply, and its range is limited by both the endurance of the power supply and the supply of reaction mass. The current version uses Argon as a plasma source. I'm currently looking into what would happen if you fed it Deuterium instead.

As to future technology, some theoretical physicists are working on a "vacuum propeller"- a device that will convert potential energy (such as electricity) into kinetic energy in free fall and vacuum without the need for reaction mass. The physics are a bit beyond me, but the idea is based on quantum vacuum and the nature of inertia itself. Not talking FTL- just something to get us around the solar system. Pure theory at present, but so was atomic energy until somebody did it. Again, it's going to need a power supply of some sort.

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