DailyDirt: Scotty, We Need More Power…
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
There could be a new Star Trek TV show ready in a couple years or so (trying to keep up with the Star Wars franchise, no doubt). But real space travel is also making some progress — with a growing number of private companies trying out new approaches to making more cost effective launch systems. Check out a few of these propulsion concepts that could be powered by “di-lithium” crystals someday.
- A company called Escape Dynamics is testing microwave-powered propulsion technology to boost vehicles into space. Microwave transmitters on the ground would zap a ship’s propellant to get it to heat up and create thrust (without needing to carry an oxidant on board), and a test vehicle has proven the concept by generating a specific impulse of 500 seconds. If they can refine the technology a bit, they claim to be able to put a 200kg payload into orbit with a single-stage, reusable spaceplane. [url]
- Ion thrusters provide a very efficient means of propulsion for artificial satellites right now, but perhaps a design change could make this type of propulsion more practical for longer trips and not just relatively short bursts of thrust. A “wall-less” Hall thruster design might last far longer than a typical 10,000 hours of operational time for existing Hall thrusters, but more testing will be necessary to optimize this novel ion thruster. [url]
- If you’re looking for a bit more oomph, how about a specific impulse of 100,000-250,000 seconds — generated from lasers aimed at a target for initiating a fusion reaction? Boeing filed a patent on this kind of propulsion in 2012 (which was granted US9068562B1), but it’s highly doubtful that laser-initiated fusion/fission thrust will become a reality any time soon. [url]
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