Space & Astronomy
Fusion could power spacecraft within 10 years
By T.K. Randall
June 17, 2019 · 3 comments
The drive is being developed by scientists at Princeton. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Cswancmu
A new type of nuclear fusion propulsion system could see spacecraft make it to Saturn in a matter of months.
Often seen as the Holy Grail of power generation, nuclear fusion is the same process that produces energy in the Sun and works by fusing hydrogen nuclei together to create helium.
Harnessing this as a method of power generation however has long proven a challenge.
More recently though, scientists at Princeton have been developing a new type of spacecraft propulsion system that takes advantage of the benefits offered by nuclear fusion energy.
Known as the Direct Fusion Drive (DFD), the ambitious engine fuses helium-3 and deuterium to produce large amounts of energy but with next to no dangerous radioactive waste.
While the new drive is still a work-in-progress, its creators believe that it could fly for the first time by 2028 and that it will be capable of significantly reducing the time it takes to reach distant worlds.
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