TO MARS AND BEYOND, FAST!
How Plasma Propulsion Will Revolutionize Space Exploration
Franklin Chang Díaz & Erik Seedhouse
Solar sails, beamed energy, antimatter, ion drives, advanced chemical, nuclear and fusion rockets - all have been discussed at space conferences for decades. In the 1950s, Project Orion evisioned a 1970 Saturn-bound spacecraft, fueled by fission explosives against a "pusher plate" connected to the spacecraft by shock absorbers. Project Daedalus followed with fusion providing thrust, but fusion became an elusive goal, and experts turned to less ambitious nulear fission rockets. In the 1960s, Project NERVA demonstrated that such an engine, immortalized in Stanley Kubrick's iconic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey
, could theoretically double the performance of the chemical rocket. But even nuclear thermal rockets don't pack enough punch for fast deep space transport.
The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR®
) bridges that performance chasm. Grounded on solid physics and 35 years of technology maturation, (VASIMR®
) provides a path for plasma rockets to evolve naturally from solar to nuclear powered and, ultimately, as fusion precursors, a dream of propulsion scientists and science fiction writers alike. This book takes the reader to the edge of today's science, describing the developmental steps of a revolutionary space propulsion technology that could become the workhorse for deep space exloration for decades to come.
Table of Contents
About the Authors
1. The Nautilus paradigm
2. A fast track to deep space
3. Early (VASIMR®) development
4. Probing the physics
5. The breakthroughs
6. A new company is born
7. The VX-200 and the path to commercialization
8. A bridge to the future
9. Mission threats and potential solutions
10. The (VASIMR®) nuclear-electric mission architecture
201 pages, Black and white/colour images integrated with text
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