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Nuclear fusion propulsion proposed

Posted on Thursday, 28 June, 2012 | Comment icon 19 comments | News tip by: Waspie_Dwarf

Image credit: NASA/ESA

Physicists are developing a pulsed nuclear fusion system to propel spacecraft in to deep space.

Conventional spacecraft propulsion systems are too slow to enable practical manned space travel beyond the moon, a mission to Mars alone could take up to eight months. With nuclear fusion however this travel time could be reduced to just eight weeks or less, harnessing the same processes that take place within the heart of the sun.

"A physics team from The University of Alabama in Huntsville's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering soon will take delivery of a specialized system to see if they can "Z-pinch" a tiny bit of that salt into the heart of a star."

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by Junior Chubb on 28 June, 2012, 19:10
While the combustion engine is being mentioned, anyone any idea how much horse-power Pulsed Nuclear Fusion Propulsion would produce?
Comment icon #11 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 28 June, 2012, 19:24
Not much in comparison to a chemical rocket, but power isn't really the point. It's the fact that the engine continues to accelerate the vehicle for weeks on end that makes it so effective.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Junior Chubb on 28 June, 2012, 19:29
Thanks for the clarification Waspie What I was really hoping for was 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 hp
Comment icon #13 Posted by paul the walrus on 28 June, 2012, 20:27
Sounds risky to me. Do we really want this type of material raining down on us, if or when, an accident occurs during lift off?
Comment icon #14 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 28 June, 2012, 21:25
This is fusion, not fission. Hydrogen is fused together to form helium. There are no radioactive fuels and no radioactive byproducts.
Comment icon #15 Posted by csspwns on 29 June, 2012, 2:20
tats cool but we stll gotta find a way to make spacecrafts move the speed of light
Comment icon #16 Posted by WillSoMysterious on 29 June, 2012, 18:44
Or 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 HamsterPower! Or 230,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 GoldfishPower! If anyone would like to try and correct me on my calculations for making animals equivilents to horsepower, please feel free to do some tests and prove me wrong.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 29 June, 2012, 19:09
The beauty of science is that we don't need to. A hypothesis is considered false unless proven to be true. The burden of proof lies totally with you. As you have presented no evidence you are automatically assumed to be wrong.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Junior Chubb on 29 June, 2012, 22:56
I did see him heading home from an aquarium with 230,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Goldfish the other day, he might just be right
Comment icon #19 Posted by lightly on 8 July, 2012, 14:47
Great. I hope it works as they hope. This type of propulsion couldn't lift off from the ground though? Could only be engaged once out of earth's grip?

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