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NASA to consider Free Ranging Space Ships

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posted on Oct, 2 2010 @ 12:30 AM

Originally posted by The_Modulus
Rail gun anyone?

Navy's Record-Breaking Railgun Shot

I find the logo on the target fascinating

posted on Oct, 2 2010 @ 08:40 AM
I think many of you are missing the point of what a "Free Ranging" spacecraft is. Free ranging means that it can go to multiple destinations and be able to remain at each of those destinations for a while to do science. The spacecraft we have now can't do that.

Right now, our spacecraft use 95%+ of all of their fuel on launch -- that is, the spend most of their lives coasting. There may be a little fuel leftover for course corrections, but for the most part, the direction they originally go is the direction they will always be going (unless a planet's gravity is used to alter its course). The spacecraft we have today can't go to a destination, stop to look around for a long period of time; then move on to the next destination to stop and look around; then move on to another destination.

The spacecraft we have today can't move from place to place because they are so non fuel efficient that they don't have enough fuel to do that. For example, the voyager spacecraft could not stop to look at Jupiter, Saturn, an Uranus -- they could only do a one-shot fly-by encounter, because they didn't have the fuel. The voyager spacecraft simply could not do anything other than zoom very quickly past those planets.

Now, consider a spacecraft with an engine that can be stopped and restarted over and over again, and is fuel efficient enough to do this for several years. A free ranging spacecraft could -- for example -- go into robit around Europa, stay for a few months, than move on to Io (and stay a few months), then move on to Ganymede, etc. The Galileo probe did look at these moons, but only when its orbit around Jupiter allowed the spacecraft to fly-by those moons -- in a "fleeting glimpse". Free ranging craft would allow for stopping for a while at each target and do deatiled science.

THAT is what's meant by free ranging spacecraft.

NASA is working on engines like this which have "Electric Propulsion", such as an Ion Thruster"
Ion Thruster Wikipedia

NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft was launched specifically to test new technologies, such as the ion engine:
Deep Space 1 Wikipedia
Deep Space 1

edit on 10/2/2010 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 2 2010 @ 09:05 AM
reply to post by Soylent Green Is People

This is one future option of the electric propulsion you speak of but it requires more power than you can get from batteries or solar. Again, it needs nuclear.

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