Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

'Star Trek' fusion impulse engine in the works (Travel to Mars in 6 Weeks)
Cnet ^ | 10/2.2012 | Cnet

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 ...


TOPICS: Science
KEYWORDS: engines; mars; sciencefiction; spacetravel; startrek; stringtheory
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-63 next last

1 posted on 10/03/2012 3:52:06 PM PDT by Dallas59
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Dallas59

Engage.


2 posted on 10/03/2012 3:57:58 PM PDT by justlurking (The only remedy for a bad guy with a gun is a good WOMAN (Sgt. Kimberly Munley) with a gun)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59
From the article:

"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.

3 posted on 10/03/2012 3:59:47 PM PDT by justlurking (The only remedy for a bad guy with a gun is a good WOMAN (Sgt. Kimberly Munley) with a gun)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59

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.


4 posted on 10/03/2012 4:00:36 PM PDT by BobL (You can live each day only once. You can waste a few, but don't waste too many.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59

Awesome! Though Star Trek lore has impulse drive maximum speed pegged at around 25% the speed of light.


5 posted on 10/03/2012 4:01:31 PM PDT by Crazieman (Are you naive enough to think VOTING will fix this entrenched system?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59
Longer article here:

UAHuntsville student seeking ‘Holy Grail’ of rocket propulsion system

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 university’s Aerophysics Research Center on Redstone Arsenal, where a team of scientists and researchers from UAHuntsville’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Boeing and Marshall Space Flight Center’s Propulsion Engineering Lab are busy putting together a strange looking machine they’re calling the “Charger-1 Pulsed Power Generator.” It’s 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.

6 posted on 10/03/2012 4:03:10 PM PDT by justlurking (The only remedy for a bad guy with a gun is a good WOMAN (Sgt. Kimberly Munley) with a gun)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BobL

I want one for my Road King!


7 posted on 10/03/2012 4:06:54 PM PDT by RitchieAprile (Bipolar and loving/hating it..)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59
montgomery scott Pictures, Images and Photos

Has Scotty inspected it yet?

8 posted on 10/03/2012 4:07:33 PM PDT by Snickering Hound
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Crazieman
Though Star Trek lore has impulse drive maximum speed pegged at around 25% the speed of light.

Hey, 167,400,000 MPH ain't bad, pretty hooked up in my book :^)

9 posted on 10/03/2012 4:08:28 PM PDT by The Cajun (Sarah Palin, Mark Levin......Nuff said.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59

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.


10 posted on 10/03/2012 4:08:45 PM PDT by FortWorthPatriot (Obama is no Hitler; Hitler got the Olympics)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: The Cajun

Well, its a far cry from the 47,000 mph advertised in the article :(


11 posted on 10/03/2012 4:10:36 PM PDT by Crazieman (Are you naive enough to think VOTING will fix this entrenched system?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Snickering Hound
Is that a dumpster or a Jefferies tube?

/johnny

12 posted on 10/03/2012 4:10:36 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: JRandomFreeper

Tribble Storage.


13 posted on 10/03/2012 4:12:21 PM PDT by Dr.Zoidberg (With (R)epublicans like these, who needs (D)emocrats?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Crazieman
Just needs a little tuning.
14 posted on 10/03/2012 4:15:03 PM PDT by The Cajun (Sarah Palin, Mark Levin......Nuff said.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59

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.


15 posted on 10/03/2012 4:15:25 PM PDT by Williams (No Obama)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Williams

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.


16 posted on 10/03/2012 4:18:32 PM PDT by central_va ( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Dr.Zoidberg

I hope he doesn’t rub up against any of them.

The triboelectric effect can be something furious...


17 posted on 10/03/2012 4:18:32 PM PDT by null and void (Day 1352 of our ObamaVacation from reality - Obama, a queer and present danger)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Crazieman
Well, its a far cry from the 47,000 mph advertised in the article :(

You must have read that wrong.

The Ford Fusion hybrid is supposed to get 47 miles to the gallon.

-PJ

18 posted on 10/03/2012 4:19:55 PM PDT by Political Junkie Too ( It doesn't I naturally when you're not natural born.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Williams

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.


19 posted on 10/03/2012 4:21:11 PM PDT by Crazieman (Are you naive enough to think VOTING will fix this entrenched system?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: FortWorthPatriot

Forgot about that....My apologies to any Muslims that might have felt left out. Dy-lithium crystals....Wallah Snackbar!


20 posted on 10/03/2012 4:21:48 PM PDT by Dallas59 (President Robert Gibbs 2009-2011)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59
Only the Romulan Bird-of-Prey runs on simple impulse,we ain't no stickin'Romulans!
21 posted on 10/03/2012 4:23:30 PM PDT by mdittmar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59

DANGER: Impulse Engine Overload Causes 97 Megaton Explosion.

22 posted on 10/03/2012 4:25:07 PM PDT by mikrofon (RIP, Bill Windom)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: central_va

... hence the deflector shields...


23 posted on 10/03/2012 4:26:12 PM PDT by Tallguy (It's all 'Fun and Games' until somebody loses an eye!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Williams
Mars is about 2 1/2 days away if you have a majikal 1 gee continuous thrust rocket.

/johnny

24 posted on 10/03/2012 4:29:58 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: BobL

There was an article here the other day where someone hypothesized that a ship with warp capabilities could be built.

http://www.space.com/17628-warp-drive-possible-interstellar-spaceflight.html


25 posted on 10/03/2012 4:34:26 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59

Science fiction is great. It takes dreams and makes them, well, into books and movies. Dream on!


26 posted on 10/03/2012 4:36:51 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: WorkingClassFilth
Science fiction is great.

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.

27 posted on 10/03/2012 4:41:29 PM PDT by Sirius Lee (Who's the bigger enemy of the American People? islam or the media?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Williams

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.


28 posted on 10/03/2012 4:41:29 PM PDT by FredZarguna (And that's the end of our show. Doink.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Williams
If you just have an engine that can operate for the whole trip as needed, you are there in a few weeks.

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.

29 posted on 10/03/2012 4:41:48 PM PDT by hopespringseternal
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59
Ok, so we're tootin' along at 0.25 x c (speed of light).

All of a sudden, there's an asteroid right in front of us.....what to do?

30 posted on 10/03/2012 4:46:42 PM PDT by stboz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stboz
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.

31 posted on 10/03/2012 4:50:28 PM PDT by Sirius Lee (Who's the bigger enemy of the American People? islam or the media?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59
from Earth to Mars in as little as six weeks

But the problem is, because of orbital mechanics, you have to wait ON Mars for 15 months before Earth and Mars re-align properly for the return flight.

So even with super-fast engines, it's still a long, multi-year trip. The longest time humans have been in a confined space is a lot less than that, and as some of the Soviet flights showed, fighting among the confined crew becomes a problem.


32 posted on 10/03/2012 4:52:45 PM PDT by canuck_conservative
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BobL
I never could figure out how Impulse Engines worked on Star Trek - I only knew they didn’t hold a candle to Warp Drive.

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

lb
--------
lb/sec

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:

V = 2W·C

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.

33 posted on 10/03/2012 4:53:09 PM PDT by Steely Tom (If the Constitution can be a living document, I guess a corporation can be a person.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Sirius Lee

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.


34 posted on 10/03/2012 4:58:30 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59

You can get there even faster if you don’t worry about how you slow down... SPLAT!


35 posted on 10/03/2012 4:58:45 PM PDT by irishtenor (Everything in moderation, however, too much whiskey is just enough... Mark Twain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: WorkingClassFilth
Science fiction does much more than that. It leads children into becoming scientists that create what was imagined.

/johnny

36 posted on 10/03/2012 5:00:34 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: WorkingClassFilth
My friend, civilization is about to be snuffed out.

When, exactly. Prove it.

37 posted on 10/03/2012 5:05:16 PM PDT by Sirius Lee (Who's the bigger enemy of the American People? islam or the media?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: stboz

Bend over and kiss your asteroid good bye.


38 posted on 10/03/2012 5:06:05 PM PDT by reg45 (Barack 0bama: Implementing class warfare by having no class!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Williams

“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.


39 posted on 10/03/2012 5:10:44 PM PDT by 21twelve (So I [God] gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. Psalm 81:12)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: WorkingClassFilth
My friend, civilization is about to be snuffed out.

Only for pessimists.

/johnny

40 posted on 10/03/2012 5:17:29 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: stboz

“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.


41 posted on 10/03/2012 5:25:11 PM PDT by Redcitizen (A good pun is its own reword.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Williams

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.


42 posted on 10/03/2012 5:29:41 PM PDT by justlurking (The only remedy for a bad guy with a gun is a good WOMAN (Sgt. Kimberly Munley) with a gun)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59

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.


43 posted on 10/03/2012 5:31:16 PM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mikrofon

I always thought that was a space burrito.


44 posted on 10/03/2012 5:34:39 PM PDT by taterjay
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: JRandomFreeper; Sirius Lee

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.


45 posted on 10/03/2012 5:38:52 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: WorkingClassFilth
Tell me all about your trip to Mars in four more years.

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?

46 posted on 10/03/2012 5:43:26 PM PDT by Sirius Lee (Who's the bigger enemy of the American People? islam or the media?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: WorkingClassFilth
Despair indicates a lack of faith in God.

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.

/johnny

47 posted on 10/03/2012 5:45:20 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: Sirius Lee

I claim no more than an opinion. So, too, do scientists puffing their grants,


48 posted on 10/03/2012 5:47:53 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 46 | View Replies]

To: Redcitizen
“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.

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.

49 posted on 10/03/2012 5:48:49 PM PDT by sima_yi ( Reporting live from the far North)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: Dallas59

We’ve had fission engines since the 1960’s. Those went nowhere.


50 posted on 10/03/2012 5:50:02 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-63 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson