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Questions tagged [advanced-propulsion]

Questions on spacecraft propulsion techniques that are either theoretical or not yet at a high technology readiness level.

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Could a spacecraft be propelled by a 180 degree deflection of two charged particle beams?

I am wondering if the electrostatic deflection of two charged particle beams could create enough thrust, via the Lorentz Force, to propel a spacecraft. Please reference the picture below. This ...
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1answer
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What could be the proprietary propellant blend that “Apollo Fusion” claims to have developed for it's hall effect thrusters?

According to the info posted on the Apollo fusion website http://apollofusion.com/ , they claim to use a propellant blend that offers " 2-3 X more impulse per mass and volume" in comparison towards ...
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1answer
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What would be the specific impulse of a continuous nuclear fusion drive?

Let's assume problems of running sustained nuclear fusion are overcome (be it by making the mechanism highly energy-positive, or just supplying all the energy deficit externally, like beamed power.) ...
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What is the most energy efficient & inexpensive propulsion system other than chemical fuel oxidizer that could be used in rockets?

I have read ionic/plasma propulsion system don't provide enough thrust to even lift themselves in Earth's atmosphere & photonic beamed propulsion is not in application yet so there any other ...
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Teleporting an object into geosynchronous orbit

Assuming that a method was found to teleport objects, and at huge range, if an object was teleported from the surface to a location at the correct height (wikipedia says about 42,164 km from earth's ...
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How does the Sabre engine's pre-cooler achieve such high performance?

The BBC News article Rolls-Royce and Boeing invest in UK space engine about Reaction Engines Limited (REL) and its Sabre engine states REL is developing what it calls the Sabre engine. This power ...
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Are there any situations where hot rather than cold propellants might be advantageous?

Given that cryogenic fuel and oxidisers exist, I wonder if the reverse is workable. Are there fuels or oxidisers that have been considered for rockets that must be kept hot to be usable? By hot I ...
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264 views

Cost Estimation of Satellite propulsion systems

As part of my research project, i am evaluating various satellite propulsion systems. Are there any databases or forums where the ROM cost of a Satellite propulsion system is listed. A few new space ...
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666 views

What will be the best way to convert nuclear fusion energy into thrust for a rocket?

Best means maximum thrust, safest, easy to maintain. And it's not opinion based because I'm looking for a way that's theoretically feasible and may be practical in a few years. However, if you have an ...
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How can a nuclear spacecraft be in compliance with the Test Ban Treaty? [duplicate]

Specifically, a nuclear fusion rocket. And no pulse propulsion, because I know doing that will be very hard.
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97 views

What aerothermal effects present significant challenges in supersonic retropropulsion?

One of NASA's plans for future mars entry, descent and landing missions includes an ambitious deceleration process involving retropropulsion in a supersonic airflow environment. I know that previous ...
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92 views

Electromagnetic engines in heavy radiation regions

What sorts of peculiarities might affect an electromagnetic rocket (VASIMR or Magneto-Inertial Fusion) crossing Jupiter's radiation belts? Could all of that energy fry a magnetic thrust chamber and ...
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EmDrive compared to flashlight in space

From my (basic) understanding the most impressive thing about the EmDrive is it violates Newton's third law. No propellant is needed, nothing is jettisoned away, yet it, allegedly, accelerates in a ...
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163 views

Antimatter fuel compartment

Antimatter is theoretically an excellent fuel, providing large thrust/mass ratio and very efficient energy transfer. Therefore, we wouldn't need to use a lot of it to achieve similar thrusts that ...
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2answers
382 views

What is our ability to capture or reflect photons of 2.5×10^-12m wavelength?

Can we efficiently reflect or capture photons of that wavelength? More precisely, $ 2.426×10^{-12} $ meters, or $ 1.236 × 10^{20} Hz$ Preferably reflect, but capture followed by re-emission as ...
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Using Earth's magnetic field for an electric propulsion system

If you were to use a spacecraft built of copper in Earth's magnetic field, could you produce enough energy to propel yourself?
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What kind of engine does this Isp = 1600 refer to? Is it cubesat-friendly?

These two good answers (one and two) to the question "Is there a maximum Isp for 'exothermic chemical reaction rockets?'" put the limits around 500-550 seconds for the limits of practical chemical ...
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Does the detection of gravitational waves prove we can travel faster than the speed of light?

From what I have read gravitational waves cannot travel faster than the speed of light. And since gravitational waves are part of the fabric of space, wouldn't that disprove the idea behind an ...
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951 views

Could cosmic rays be produced by alien propulsion systems?

Could the cosmic radiation of heavy ions which hit us be the exhaust of advanced electric propulsion used by alien space travelers? While supernovae seem to cause part of them, much of it is far from ...
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What would be the challenges of a non-rotating tether orbiting the Moon?

There are examinations of lunar tethers going through the EML1 point, and rotating tethers in various orbits of the Moon. But I haven't seen an examination of a tether in orbit that doesn't rotate. ...
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What does a high Hall Effect Parameter mean in MPD thrusters?

MagnetoPlasmaDynamic Thrusters are plasma thrusters in which the acceleration of the fluid (plasma) is carried in a electromagnetic way. The electric field and the lorentz force are the primary causes ...
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Switching off the magnetic coils in a Hall Effect Thruster

Talking about Hall Effect Thrusters (HET), we can say that the presence of a hollow cathode is relevant to reach a good operation of the thruster. We also can plot the potential-x (trajectory of ...
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Electron buildup in Hall effect thrusters?

I was thinking about the Hall Effect Thrusters and how they are able to produce thrust. There's something that I don't understand: when the hollow cathodes emit electrons to neutralize the flow at the ...
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Is Railgun propulsion being researched?

Specifically: not a "space gun" for launching payloads to space. This subject has been discussed a lot, and I know of the slew of problems and their partial solutions enough. I mean a device mounted ...
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2answers
258 views

Burn 1st stage structural material as fuel?

Aluminum/Magnesium alloys can burn quite nicely. The stoichiometry is favoriable. Instead of $CO_2$ which is mostly oxidizer by mass, you might end up with $Al_2O_3$ and $MgO$ as exhaust. The ...
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1answer
535 views

Inertialess Drive?

I was reading this article about an "EmDrive" recently. The article suggests that we've just been looking at the problem the wrong way all along, which sounds either like genius or lunacy. What ...
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1answer
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XIPS purity requirements?

What purity of xenon is required for the xenon ion propulsion system? Does the purity impact the efficiency of the engine?
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Would a nuclear propelled spaceship still need a storm shelter?

Assume you have a sophisticated nuclear (thermal or whatever comes to mind) propelled spaceship for your summer vacation on Mars. Half way there Houston calls and informs you about an inbound solar ...
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5answers
357 views

Could fuel be “hosed” (pumped) from the ground to a launcher?

Most fuel on board a launcher is used during the first couple of minutes. Most of the propellant is needed to carry other propellant. For example, Saturn V (kerosene) and Delta IV (hydrogen) use about ...
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Harpoon propulsion - what would be the problems?

Let's imagine we have finally developed buckytube rope. A couple hundred kilometers of rope, able to tug a 100-ton craft at 6g acceleration, in a package packable on said craft. A near-earth asteroid ...
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1answer
421 views

What would be required to fly four astronauts at constant 1G to Mars? [closed]

Is it technically possible to build a ship that could keep a constant 1G acceleration / deceleration on a flight from Earth to Mars? What could provide energy? What could provide accelerant? (I am not ...
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1answer
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How would Solar Flares affect Solar Sail navigation?

As I understand, Solar Sail runs on dual energy: light pressure and solar wind. While the former is quite deterministic and rigidly following calculations, solar flares create huge bursts of solar ...
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Is it feasible to launch spacecraft/payload by water steam generated by a nuclear blast? [closed]

The Spaceship with a concave bottom is kept on top of a hole which contains water. A nuclear blast then converts the water to steam which gives the thrust to the spaceship. My question is that is ...
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Collecting antimatter from Van Allen radiation belts

I just read an article by John P. Millis, Ph.D which says that antimatter is created in the Van Allen radiation belts. I am writing a novel where a future starship with FTL capability, powered by a ...
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1answer
462 views

Books on rocket engine *dynamics*? [closed]

I'm a controls guy and I would like to "emulate" a given rocket engine's response behavior to different thrust signals inside a computer simulation. Thus I'm looking for a book that explains well the ...
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150 views

Could it be possible to “steam” up water to orbit and collect it there?

Water is cheap and useful for many purposes in space (fuel, life support, radiation shielding and maybe even as the bulk part of construction material if covered from sublimation in vacuum). But ...
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1answer
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Could a sling launcher be used on Mars?

A sling launcher (discussed in this write-up by Landis) is a tower with a motor that spins a hub with two or more cables attached. Payload(s) are attached to the end of one or more cables and ...
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Pumped propellant propulsion - is it viable?

A recent article on Slashdot got me thinking. While the article is about using electric turbopumps for moving fuel from tanks to engines during launch phase and is just a small, incremental ...
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Can electric propulsion be used for launch (theoretically) [closed]

Electric propulsion is driven by power. Are there any theoretical limitations to the amount of power that can be used for electric propulsion? If limits do exist, do they rule out electric propulsions ...
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What is the performance of ion thrusters in actual deployed spacecraft?

Which spacecraft / satellites currently deployed in space (2015) use ion thruster propulsion and how do they compare? The wikipedia article have some comparative numbers, but some of the engines on ...
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How will the ion thruster powered Dawn spacecraft enter orbit around Ceres?

How is it possible for a ion thruster powered spacecraft like Dawn to decelerate to orbit Ceres? Does it have a secondary engine to accomplish this task?
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224 views

Does the Oberth effect motivate complementing ion electric propulsion with chemical rocketry?

The solar electric ion propulsion engine of the Dawn spacecraft to Vesta and Ceres used Mars for gravity assist. Would it be gainful to complement an ion engine with a high thrust (solid) chemical ...
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396 views

Current Research Being Done on Hall Effect Thrusters

It seems like electric propulsion will be the most viable candidate for current and future interplanetary missions. However, I was wondering what type of research is currently being done on Hall ...
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747 views

Could a spaceship be “charged” with kinetic energy instead of having to be propulsed?

Could we use some kind of rotating sling or magnetic loop to accelerate a spaceship to (very) high speed and then release it and hurl it away? Today all spaceships are propelled by engines and some ...
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Why is the “impossible” space drive impossible?

So apparently NASA just built an impossible propulsion device: Sawyer's engine is extremely light and simple. It provides a thrust by "bouncing microwaves around in a closed container." The ...
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3answers
484 views

Can one put a large nickel-iron asteroid into an elliptical solar orbit that results in a soft(ish) earth landing?

My daughter and I are debating whether it is technically feasible to bring a nickel iron asteroid to the surface or the earth non-destructively. I felt it was impossible. Her thought was that with a ...
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1answer
993 views

Is a manned craft powered by Solar Sail feasible from Earth Orbit to Lunar Orbit

Trying to ask a series of questions but I'm breaking up the overall point into easier "chunks" to not make the overall question too broad. Question 1: Designing a craft for transfer from Earth to ...
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4k views

Solar sail thrust calculation

In Space Mission Engineering: The new SMAD, page 555, section 18.7.2, the following thrust formula is given for a solar sail: $$F=\frac{2RSA}{c}\sin^2\theta=9.113\times10^{-6}\frac{RA}{D^2}\sin^2\...
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Whats the status of the Dual Stage 4 Grid Ionic Thruster?

There was a lot of talk about it back in '06 when the news came out, and how it could reach a specific impulse approaching 20,000, but I haven't heard any updates on it and the ESA link doesn't work. ...
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749 views

Alcubierre Drive and interacting with matter

What would happen when there is the warping of space occupied by matter? For example, if there is a ship propelled by the Alcubierre Drive, what would happen if it collided with something with mass? ...