Plasma "Rockets" in the UK

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Plasma "Rockets" in the UK

Post by Paul_Schatzkin » Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:11 pm

Did anybody else see this item that went by yesterday? ... in-chelsea

Headline: Brits build plasma-powered 100,000 MPH rocket engine halving Mars travel time

Money quote: " ...Pulsar Fusion ultimately hopes to construct an engine capable of powering rockets travelling at a staggering 500,000mph. Pulsar, a privately owned nuclear fusion firm based in Bletchley in Milton Keynes, has constructed a miniature version of the thruster - and the trial opens up a range of tantalising possibilities, as well as underscoring the importance to post-Brexit Britain of the soaring space sector, which also celebrated the launch of the Solar Orbiter spacecraft earlier today."

I dunno what to think. I do recall that the prospect of fusion-powered space travel was one of the things that lured Philo Farnsworth into fusion research. But from conversations with his son Philo III (d. 1987) I got the idea that he was thinking about more than just speed-through-space. His thinking revolved more around the cosmology of it all, as reflected in the rhetorical question "why do we think we need to spend so much energy to traverse something which is basically nothing?"

Also I'm not too sure what to make of this Richard Dinan, a British science-based reality TV personality who has fashioned himself as a "fusion celebrity." ... on-reactor

Anybody remember Mark Suppes?? He had a flurry of media attention for a hot minute, too...

Anyway, be careful but have fun with it...

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Re: Plasma "Rockets" in the UK

Post by Richard Hull » Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:28 am

The last article by the BBC is well written and continues to push the fusion dream. It redeems itself with the easily understood roadblocks to every single fusion effort, but notes that all of the millionaires and billionaires remain hopeful. All methods still rely on the magnetic containment principle or some putt-putt boat principle. The hope for the magnetic issue is that super conducting magnets will save the day for fusion. Will it? Let's throw some more billions at it and see if it is the answer. Hope and hopelessness are, as always, the watchword associated with controlled fusion.

As regards plasma rockets. The ISP, (specific impulse), is great but the thrust is rather low and at best is just a bit better that ion propulsion and no where near chemical. The source of electrical power would be tremendous. 100,000 mph is great within the solar system, but leaves us still trapped like rats as related to stellar travel. For stellar travel, a million miles per hour, (~280 miles per second), is still a snail's pace to the nearest star.

The physics of inertia limit the acceleration and deceleration of a manned craft which, with a sufficient engine, would have to burn a long time going to Saturn and at about half way would need to burn again to decelerate to go into orbit. Using gravitational slingshot and orbital capture methods would not work well for manned vehicles as the inertial consequences would be severe, but might be sustained if the boost or deceleration via this method could be withstood for the time needed to accomplish the task. Probes have no real issue with this as they are not living entities and can easily be designed to withstand forces that would kill a man. Inertia is a killer. You just can't step on the gas to get to 100,000 mph or just put on the brakes when you arrive at your destination. Folks don't know physics very well and what sounds great in velocity has severe limitations for living , easily breakable, systems.

If the earth, in its orbit could be brought to a standstill in 1 second, and remain intact, (which it could not), would have every living being reduced to a thin film like residue due to inertia.
Mass, inertia and gravity are related and all are incomprehensible and ill understood at their core to this day. One of the finest books I have read had a killer title. "In the grip of the Universe", This is all related to Mach's principle. We are all held in the grip of the Universe. In short, the entire universe knows what your up to when you move about or try and go real fast all of a sudden, inertia....

Mach's principle explained as an effect and not a codified theory of what is causing it.... No one knows that mystery. Accept it and just move on with what you are doing....Just don't try to move on too fast or you will be sorry and answer to the univese.

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: Plasma "Rockets" in the UK

Post by PazHeping » Fri Aug 28, 2020 2:43 am

I watched the Richard Dinan video of him speaking at Oxford. Part 1 is quite good. Part 2 basically says; "investors are only going to invest in tokamaks once ITER comes on line...and then he pitches his book."

I got drawn into Dinan's company Applied Fusion from an article about fusion propulsion (parts one and two of his Oxford talk are on his site). My take is that fusion propulsion is a really good thing for fusion because it's a real life use which can be put into play now instead of worriying about Q+. For me that's exciting. I have been exposed to nuclear stuff my whole life. My father worked on the Hanford reactor and retired from the NRC some years ago. I was always interested in what my dad did but he couldn't talk about it because "I can never remember what's classified and what's not." So, I was always reading about fusion rockets on my own, and reactors and the lot (can I say bomb here?)... but the dream didn't unfold so I say the more the merrier. Also, I like how he does'nt shy away from talking about the tendency of the population to consider individual fusioneers 'nut jobs'. And how that needs to change.

So, I think Richard Dinan could possibly be an Elon Musk type for fusion...he's young and has great energy. If he continues with his fusion propulsion it will be another outlet for folks to talk about this technology which, I think we can all agree, is still in its nascent form.
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