30-Day Trip To Mars?

In his 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein is clear about the real-world limitations of space travel to Mars with minimum energy paths:

At that time, only eight Terran years after the founding of the first human colony on Luna, any interplanetary trip made by humans necessarily had to be made in weary free-fail orbits, doubly tangent semi-ellipses--from Terra to Mars, two hundred fifty-eight days, the same for the return journey, plus four hundred fifty-five days waiting at Mars while the two planets crawled slowly back into relative positions which would permit shaping the doubly-tangent orbit-a total of almost three Earth years.

After making the trip the old fashioned way, a new technology becomes available:

The Federation Ship Champion, manned by an all-male crew of eighteen experienced spacemen and carrying more than that number of male pioneers, made the crossing under Lyle Drive in only nineteen days. The Champion landed just south of Lacus Soli, as Captain van Tromp intended to search for the Envoy.

This week, University of Washington researchers and scientists announced their progress in building components of a fusion-powered rocket that could drop the long months required for such a trip to mere weeks.

(A concept image of a spacecraft powered by a fusion-driven rocket)

"Using existing rocket fuels, it's nearly impossible for humans to explore much beyond Earth," said lead researcher John Slough, a UW research associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics. "We are hoping to give us a much more powerful source of energy in space that could eventually lead to making interplanetary travel commonplace."

Slough and his team have published papers calculating the potential for 30- and 90-day expeditions to Mars using a rocket powered by fusion, which would make the trip more practical and less costly.

Slough and his colleagues at MSNW think so. They have demonstrated successful lab tests of all portions of the process. Now, the key will be combining each isolated test into a final experiment that produces fusion using this technology, Slough said.

(The Fusion Driven Rocket: Animation)
The Fusion Driven Rocket
Thin hoops of metal are driven at the proper angle and speed for convergence onto target plasmoid at thruster throat. A target Deuterium FRC plasmoid is created and injected into thruster chamber.
Target FRC is confined by axial magnetic field from shell driver coils as it translates through chamber eventually stagnating at the thruster throat.
Converging shell segments form fusion blanket compressing target FRC plasmoid to fusion conditions. The shell absorbs neutrons emitted during fusion.
Vaporized and ionized by fusion neutrons and alphas, the plasma blanket expands against the divergent magnetic field resulting directed flow of the metal plasma out of the magnetic nozzle.

Via Physorg.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/7/2013)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

ADEPT Heat Shield Works For Mars
'...A synthetic which air-friction would erode away...' - EE Doc Smith, 1934.

Nuke Mars To Terraform It, Says Elon Musk
'... Mars could not be made habitable without first being stocked with air and water...' - Olaf Stapledon, 1930.

Texas-Sized Ice Slab Found On Mars
'That's okay, still ice in The Rock and a miner expects to sound for it...'- Robert Heinlein, 1966.

NASA Turns To Museum Space Shuttles For Parts
Tropes true to life.


  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.






Current News

Harvard's Robobees Now 'Fly' Underwater
'...the Scarab buzzed into the great workroom as any intruding insect might, and sought the security of a shadowed corner.'

ADEPT Heat Shield Works For Mars
'...A synthetic which air-friction would erode away...'

Ultralight Origami Crane UAV Flexes Its Wings
'They began to flex their wings.'

UM Solar Car Now Also With IBM Research Power
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

Robot-Based Trash Collection
'Robots pick up the garbage and junk and load it in there...'

Warrior Web Exoskeleton For Soldiers Undergo Tests
'The real genius in the design is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it...'

Tesla Promises Fully Autonomous Cars By 2018
'It's been a criminal offense for at least a hundred years to drive manually on a public highway.'

Light Molecules (And Maybe Light Sabers, Someday)
'It will be matter, matter made of light...'

Telepresence In The Office
'That led to his development of robot probes; small devices with cameras and sound equipment which could move freely... under direct control.'

Piper, Google's 2 Billion Line Code Repository, Needs A Cool Display
'The student pointed a finger and as he did so, the line of equations marched down the wall...'

WEpod Driverless Vehicle On The Netherlands Roads
'The car moved smoothly away. Mirelly-Lyra half relaxed; she was not steering.'

Computer Predicts Psychosis Better Than Psychiatrists
'The mechanism which was the portable extension of Dr. Smile...'

Robot Evolution Needs Mass Extinction Events
'It was small, one of the baby ones.'

Lab-Grown Kidneys Implanted Successfully - In Animals
'For a while your colonists will have to come up to the Hospital to get treatment with the ramrobot symbiots...'

Korean Lab Ready To Clone Your Dog
Man's best friend, cloned.

DARPA NeuroTech Hand With Natural Sensation
'Take care, sir.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.