Tag Archives: propulsion

Space travel without propellant


"Fuel? We won’t need no stinkin’ fuel for our spacecraft!" might be the motto of the Cornell Planetary Magnetic Fields Propulsion research team. Led by Dr. Mason Peck, the team envisions spacecraft that would be able to surf planetary magnetic fields, requiring little if any propellant. The effect to be harnessed, known as Lorentz forces, is small, so the spacecraft would likewise have to be small: imagine a swarm of millions of craft, each the size and mass of a single silicon wafer, gathering information, providing communications, or creating a distributed-aperture telescope kilometres in diameter. Such tiny, lightweight craft might even be perfect for the first trip to another star system. (Via Centauri Dreams.)

Hey, at 1/10th light speed, Proxima Centauri is only 43 years away… (Photo from NASA via Wikimedia Commons.)

[tags]space travel, propulsion, spacecraft, technology[/tags]

Scientist brings laser engines into realm of possibility

Destiny Gundam light propulsionImagine a spacecraft that could travel faster than 100km/sec. Something like that might get us to Mars in about a week. Well, as happens so often, technology seen in Japanese anime is stepping out of the pages into real life. Dr. Young Bae of the Bae Institute demonstrated his engine back in 2006, and this week he presented his concepts at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Space 2007 Conference.

All this may seem rather far-fetched and crazy, but Dr. Bae is publishing his discovery in the AIAA’s peer-reviewed journal (scheduled out later this year), so it must have some basis of truth behind it. I’d caution skepticism all around, and I’ll believe it when I see it. Too often, somebody forgets to carry the one or they realize that the technology causes babies to be born with an extra appendage. On the other hand, this could be really cool, and I’m sure it will have applications elsewhere, too. Oh yeah, did I mention this contraption was built with off-the-shelf parts?

(via DailyTech)
{image from sunrise anime

The facts of the (anti)matter

Antimatter has powered countless science fictional starships, but has yet to be used as a propulsion method in reality. Reasons are manifold: firstly, it’s very difficult and expensive to make even the tiniest amount of it; and second, we’re still not entirely sure what it is or how it works. Centauri Dreams reports on the state of antimatter research, and hopes that someday we’ll be able to use it to move between the stars.

That said, successful Space Shuttle launches aside, we’re still short of a simple and affordable route to orbit, let alone our nearest stellar neighbours. JP Aerospace reckons it has an answer to getting us at least half-way there – namely making lighter-than-air flyers to ascend to a sub-orbital space station, from which super-light orbiters could be launched. It’s a low-budget lo-fi approach, but if it works, why not?

Still hungry for space-related stuff? Carnival of Space #14  is live at Universe Today.