posted on Jan, 15 2010 @ 01:05 AM
what about a hydrogen based factor??
Just the phrase "hydrogen spacecraft" tends to put images in many people's minds of something futuristic, something along the lines of the cartoon
"The Jetsons" or one of the latest Hollywood blockbuster sci-fi movies. The reality of the hydrogen spacecraft is that it has been around for years.
And, it all started in the 1930's with a British engineer named Francis Thomas Bacon.
Japanese experimental reusable RVT-6 Spacecraft
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It took Mr. Bacon almost thirty years to come up with a workable prototype of a fuel cell that was capable of powering up to five kilowatts. Energy
company, General Electric took Bacon's fuel cell design and expanded upon it for the fledgling space program back in the 1960's.
The space program was still in its infancy back in the Gemini and Apollo days. NASA needed a power source low in weight and density in order to
provide electricity to many onboard applications for the space capsules and General Electric came up with a solution. The result was one of the first
spacecraft to use hydrogen as fuel.
Hydrogen spacecraft use hydrogen in several ways. First, it is used in the fuel cells to provide electricity to onboard components because of its
properties of being lightweight and clean-burning. Secondly, hydrogen is used as a type of fuel for propulsion.
Hydrogen spacecraft have several beneficial features. For instance, when the hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity for the spacecraft, the only
by-product is water. This water is so clean that its used for drinking water for the astronauts onboard during their missions. Another benefit to
hydrogen is that while it is used as a fuel for propulsion, it can also be used as a coolant to keep the spacecraft from overheating.
Now days, NASA finances a lot of research into these fuel cells and other alternative forms of hydrogen technology. Hydrogen is clean and low in
density, which is a better alternative over solar technologies that have large and awkward equipment. It is also safer than trying to use nuclear
Other enterprises have also jumped onboard such as the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), which built the RVT-6 spacecraft
pictured above. The RVT-6 is a prototype for a commercial line of spacecraft that is powered by a hydrogen-fuelled rocket engine.
Thanks to NASA's (and other organizations') never-ending quest for efficient power alternatives using hydrogen, the mass public in the 21st century
is starting to reap some of the benefits. There are now prototypes for hydrogen motorcycles, cars, trains and even other crafts like boats. Of course,
it will take a long time before the hydrogen fuel cell technology takes off due to limited public resources for refueling these vehicles.
Years down the road, when the environment is a little cleaner and the pollutants in the air decrease, we will have NASA and the first hydrogen
spacecraft to thank for propelling hydrogen as a fuel source to the forefront of alternative fuel research.