January 28, 2022

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Space Bussard Thruster is impossible

Description of a ship operated by a Bussard ramjet.

Description of a ship operated by a Bussard ramjet.
Description: NASA / Public Domain

Bussard ramjet is one of the most Popular in science fiction. AAs appears in many science fiction novels The number is zero And also mentioned in Star Trek. Unfortunately, a recent study confirms that one is not possible even with the latest changes.

If you remember ours Review of the most important space thrusters, You know, Ramjet The Buzzard is nothing more than a spaceship version of a ramjet, an atmospheric propellant that uses the aircraft’s own speed to compress the air entering the engines. MotivationAs it is, it is fed by air, however it requires an auxiliary motor through which it reaches a speed suitable for starting to operate.

There is no air in space, but there is an odd ionized hydrogen atom. In 1960, eTook hydrogen Nuclear physicist estadounidens Robert Bouchard a TheoryJar About a potential engine that would capture that hydrogen and compress it to obtain a fusion momentum capable of reaching speeds greater than current space propulsion.

Bussard or Bussard Ramjet Propeller was born. The problem with this space ramjet It is in a vacuum between the stars Since hydrogen is so low, it is estimated that a “strainer” is needed to collect it It must be the size of a dwarf planet (a thousand kilometers in diameter). Recent calculations by aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin have shown that, although small in space, the resistance of particles against an umbrella of this magnitude can cause the fusion engine to fail.

In 1969, another researcher named it John F. Fishback Proposed Solve the problem of the front umbrella using magnets, which will create a magnetic field capable of capturing hydrogen for an invisible network without resorting to very large body structures. Fishback’s solution they tried to prove precisely Peter Scotsnader y Albert Jackson, two researchers specializing in calculating electromagnetic fields for an electron microscope.

The New study From Scotsnader y Jackson was just there Octa was released in Astronautica and brings bad news to those who dream of large spacecraft with umbrellas capable of catching hydrogen to reach relative speeds. Even with the idea of ​​magnetic fields, the fishback equations are not exactly in the sense that the amount of structures needed to create those fields is simply impossible.

The authors started from a functionFusion pulsar twice as fast as the space shuttle. Despite such a moderate speed, The magnetic coils needed to collect enough hydrogen must be 4,000 km in diameter, which is certainly not practical to build or maintain.[[[[Science Live Via Ars Technica]

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