Skip to comments.'Star Trek' fusion impulse engine in the works (Travel to Mars in 6 Weeks)
Posted on 10/03/2012 3:52:03 PM PDT by Dallas59
There's a hierarchy of "Star Trek" inventions we would like to see become reality. We already have voice-controlled computers and communicators in the form of smartphones. A working Holodeck is under development. Now, how about we get some impulse engines for our starships?
The University of Alabama in Huntsville's Aerophysics Research Center, NASA, Boeing, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are collaborating on a project to produce nuclear fusion impulse rocket engines. It's no warp drive, but it would get us around the galaxy a lot quicker than current technologies.
According to Txchnologist, the scientists are hoping to make impulse drive a reality by 2030. It would be capable of taking a spacecraft from Earth to Mars in as little as six weeks.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.cnet.com ...
"The fusion fuel we're focusing on is deuterium [a stable isotope of hydrogen] and Li6 [a stable isotope of the metal lithium] in a crystal structure," Txchnologist quotes team member and aerospace engineering Ph.D. candidate Ross Cortez saying. "That's basically dilithium crystals we're using." Let's pause and savor that for a moment. Dilithium crystals. Awesome.
I never could figure out how Impulse Engines worked on Star Trek - I only knew they didn’t hold a candle to Warp Drive.
But given where we are today, just having sub-light Impulse Engines isn’t all that bad, and I’d LOVE to see it put into use.
Awesome! Though Star Trek lore has impulse drive maximum speed pegged at around 25% the speed of light.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. Can a device formerly used to test nuclear weapons effects find a new life in rocket propulsion research? That is the question in which researchers at The University of Alabama in Huntsville seek an answer.
A new massive device is being assembled at the universitys Aerophysics Research Center on Redstone Arsenal, where a team of scientists and researchers from UAHuntsvilles Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Boeing and Marshall Space Flight Centers Propulsion Engineering Lab are busy putting together a strange looking machine theyre calling the Charger-1 Pulsed Power Generator. Its a key element in furthering the development of nuclear fusion technology to drive spacecraft.
The huge apparatus, known as the Decade Module Two (DM2) in its earlier life, was used on a contract with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for research into the effects of nuclear weapons explosions.
I want one for my Road King!
Hey, 167,400,000 MPH ain't bad, pretty hooked up in my book :^)
Okay, okay knock it off and get back to work. We have muslims to placate here at NASA. No time for this “space travel” nonsense. Seesh.
Well, its a far cry from the 47,000 mph advertised in the article :(
Whether it’s this engine or not, I always thought the old fire a rocket once on this end, travel for 6 months, then fire a slow down rocket approach is crazy.
If you just have an engine that can operate for the whole trip as needed, you are there in a few weeks.
THe problem as speed approaches the speed of light is that if you hit something the size of a grain of rice it is the equivalent of a small nuclear bomb.
I hope he doesn’t rub up against any of them.
The triboelectric effect can be something furious...
You must have read that wrong.
The Ford Fusion hybrid is supposed to get 47 miles to the gallon.
No, the same action/reaction thrust/reverse thrust approach is here.
The difference is the top speed (currently advertised at around 47,000 mph). So whatever the calculation of accelerative force to that point (say, a few days), coast for 5 weeks, rotate the ship, and decelerate.
Forgot about that....My apologies to any Muslims that might have felt left out. Dy-lithium crystals....Wallah Snackbar!
DANGER: Impulse Engine Overload Causes 97 Megaton Explosion.
... hence the deflector shields...
There was an article here the other day where someone hypothesized that a ship with warp capabilities could be built.
Science fiction is great. It takes dreams and makes them, well, into books and movies. Dream on!
All I know is that we'll never fly, travel under the sea anything called a "Nautilus", talk to each other with little flip top "communicators", have talking computers, harness the atom, or go to the moon.
It’s not crazy, it’s really the only thing we have unless you build the ship in orbit. The amount of fuel required to get to even low Earth-orbit requires such a huge thrust/weight ratio that your payload can’t be more than a small percentage of the weight of the spacecraft. That payload is anything that isn’t fuel or fuel containment, so a real “engine” is pretty much out of the question unless you’re launching from a platform in space where you’ve been able to assemble your spacecraft from multiple Earth-based launches.
You can do that with an ion engine, but it is such low thrust it all ends up being the same anyway.
In practice, even with a super-scifi engine you still don't need to run it very often -- it isn't like you have anything slowing you down you need to compensate for.
The only real reason to run your engines the whole time would be to provide artificial "gravity" via acceleration. And if you have the technology to do that you probably have the technology to create artificial gravity anyway.
All of a sudden, there's an asteroid right in front of us.....what to do?
Same thing you would do if you were running into the path of one as you drove to work in the morning. The likelihood of you running into one in either instance remains about the same.
A quick internet search turns up a rocket science term known as "specific impulse," which has dimensions of seconds; this somewhat enigmatic dimension expands into "pound per pound per second" or
Here the numerator represents "pounds of thrust" and the denominator represents "pounds per second of fuel consumption."
Specific impulse is a single catch-all parameter for measuring the value/quality of a rocket engine and its fuel supply. The higher the specific impulse, the longer the engine will generate a particular thrust level on the same quantity of fuel.
"Impulse" is also an engineering quantity. It's dimensions are force·time, or lb·sec in the units used above; these are also the units of momentum. Interestingly, these dimensions are identical to m·v, mass times velocity, which relates to the amount of mass ejected from a rocket engine times the velocity at which the mass leaves the engine.
Anyway, I've always assumed (as a long-ago avid viewer of ST-TOS) that "impulse power" or "impulse engines" were classical rocket engines, although probably using some energy source far in advance of the chemical reactions we have mostly used in earthly space programs over the years.
"Warp Drive" seems to be based on some sort of bending or twisting of the space-time continuum, and thus is not limited by the speed of light. I remember reading long ago that "warp factor W" meant the speed of light times two raised to the power of W:
Thus when Captain Kirk called out "Warp factor 7 Mr. Scott" he was telling Scotty to make turns for 128 times the speed of light.
My friend, civilization is about to be snuffed out. Science might (that’s a big might) under conditions of peace and prosperity, but these ain’t them times. Besides, too much science is given to shopping for grants. Buying headlines from some lab looking for cash is hardly reaching for the stars.
You can get there even faster if you don’t worry about how you slow down... SPLAT!
When, exactly. Prove it.
Bend over and kiss your asteroid good bye.
“If you just have an engine that can operate for the whole trip as needed, you are there in a few weeks.”
I didn’t read the article, but assuming a nuclear engine - perhaps then we could also LEAVE mars. As it is now with a rocket - you can check in, but never check out. Although I imagine you would have some intrepid explorers that would take on the mission. Set up a permanent camp, be resupplied from earth, etc.
Only for pessimists.
“All of a sudden, there’s an asteroid right in front of us.....what to do? “
Make sure we have insurance with Prudential...so we can get a piece of the rock.
If you can accelerate continuously, then you have to decelerate at some point -— starting at approximately the half-way point between the start and your destination. Ideally, you can just turn yourself around and point the rocket in the opposite direction.
Unless you can decelerate using some other means, like aero-braking.
Fine....go to Mars in six weeks.....your luggage went to Venus and you won’t see it for five years. Your underwear is going to be pretty stinky. Then, you’ll see some real fights.
I always thought that was a space burrito.
OK, you guys like Star Trek.
Our moon program came during the greatest era of prosperity in the greatest nation on earth with people trained in sciences with work ethics.
Today, money spent on NASA is spent on political clap-trap. Our nation is nowhere near what we were during the height of national strength and resolve. Forty years of national decay and staggering debt have changed the fundamental meaning of what being American means for, what may prove, a majority of our fellow citizens.
Don’t think so? Tell me all about your trip to Mars in four more years.
BTW, if America does go under . . . the lights go out everywhere.
I never claimed I would be on a trip to Mars in four more years. You however claimed that civilization is about to be snuffed out.
If that's the case then you should be able to provide a time frame. Or are you practicing your own version of science fiction, albeit a dystopian one?
The moon program came as the world was ending with communists taking over the world, the Vietnam War and morality was decaying in the '60s.
I remember those years and the 'end of civilization' crowd.
We create more real wealth today than ever before. We feed more people than ever before. We live longer, we live better. By every measure, life has improved since the '60s. Those were NOT the good old days.
I claim no more than an opinion. So, too, do scientists puffing their grants,
Make sure we have insurance with Prudential...so we can get a piece of the rock.
Actually, a better plan is to buy a one billion dollar life insurance policy from Lloyds; then you don't have to worry, they'll make sure nothing happens to you.
We’ve had fission engines since the 1960’s. Those went nowhere.