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NASA Scientist Proposes Alpha Fusion Thruster to Drive Future Deep-Space Probes

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posted on Jun, 29 2011 @ 01:02 PM
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Fusion power has long been the dream of those seeking endless energy supplies, although efforts to smash atomic particles together and harness their energy have been dubious at best. Now a NASA scientist is proposing a new form of fusion-based energy to power a deep space probe.
Instead of using fusion’s excess energy to drive a generator, it would use the kinetic energy of radioactive decay particles to provide thrust.
John J. Chapman, a physicist and electronics engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center, proposes a boron-based fusion motor instead of a system based on deuterium and tritium. He explained the system at an IEEE Symposium on Fusion Engineering in Chicago this week.


www.popsci.com...

A very interesting concept. It fires a laser at a thin foil layer shooting protons at a boron-11 target fusing them into an isotope of carbon and releasing Alpha particles that would exit out of the "rocket nozzle" providing thrust.

Imagine what journeys our space craft could take if we could reduce the weight of our fuel.
edit on 29-6-2011 by BomSquad because: wrong formatting




posted on Jun, 30 2011 @ 05:40 AM
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This is a first for me...3 flags and 4 stars, and NO responses.


I can't be the only one who finds this interesting...



posted on Jun, 30 2011 @ 06:05 AM
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reply to post by BomSquad
 


Explanation: S&F!

Personal Disclosure: THIS ^^^^^!!!
Bumped for Justice!



posted on Jun, 30 2011 @ 06:05 AM
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I think he will have a hard sell if he's proposing this system be used on manned spacecraft. It's not like there aren't any worries about the radiation environment to begin with. On the other hand, it might be a great way to send probes to the Kuyper Belt; they need to be nuclear powered anyway.



posted on Jun, 30 2011 @ 06:57 AM
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reply to post by DJW001
 


Well, if the only radiation produced is Alpha radiation, I don't think it will be a problem. To those of you that don't know, alpha radiation is basically a radioactive helium atom. A piece of paper can stop Alpha radiation. The biggest thing to worry about would be gamma radiation. If gamma radiation is produced, that would be a definite problem, depending on the quantities. The only thing that effectively protects you from gamma is time and distance.

You could also place the engine on a boom, far away from the crew capsule. That could provide the needed distance to prevent any problems with crew radiation exposure from the engine.

Of course there is still the problem of the solar wind and cosmic rays. I don't think we will see any manned deep space missions until we can solve those problems.



posted on Jul, 1 2011 @ 09:00 PM
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Boron fusion is the basis behind the Focus Fusion project to build fusion reactors, they've proven the concept but now need to demonstrate enough energy yield for commercial power generation.

It makes sense for NASA to be pursuing this as well for propulsion, as the yields would need to be substantially less than for a commercial power station,




 
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