If you like reading space news, then you have probably heard about theFusion-powered spacecraft. This one of a kind technological invention could allow a probe to make it to Saturn in just two years.You can even go all the way to Pluto in 5 years as per reports from the project team members.And for the very first time, the Direct Fusion Drive engine could be ready to hit space in 2028. That is if everything goes according to plan.
Features of the Fusion Powered Spacecraft
- Double UP as a Potent Power Source
The Direct Fusion Drive engine will double up as a potent power source. What this basically means is that the technology is set to come with a wide range of off-Earth applications. For instance, the Direct Fusion Drive engine will have the capabilities to power the Gateway, NASA’s planned moon orbiting space station. In addition, it should also power bases on Mars and the moon. This is as per reports from one project team member Stephanie Thomas, who also happens to be the Vice President of Princeton Satellite Systems in Plainsboro.
- Variant of the Princeton Field Reversed Configuration (PFRC)
The Direct Fusion Drive engine is a variant of the popular Princeton Filed Reversed Configuration which was invented in the early 2000s by one Samuel Cohen of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). Actually, the Direct Fusion Drive engine is simply a PFRC reactor that comes fully fitted with an open end from where the exhaust flows in order to generate thrust. This is per the explanation provided by Samuel Cohen.
- Magnetically Contained Hot Plasma
Direct Fusion Drive engine’s is expected to feature a magnetically contained hot plasma of deuterium and helium-3. Deuterium is a special type of Hydrogen that only contains one neutron in its nucleus. All atoms of these two elements willgenerate lots of energy by fusing within the plasma. Thomas also said the fusing plasma will have the capability to heat up any cool propellant that is flowing outside the confinement area. The propellant is strategically positioned to direct out a nozzle at the back of the Direct Fusion Drive engine.
- Can do a Great Deal of Science Work
Once completed, the Direct Fusion Drive engine is expected to perform a host of science work. This is because it will have a lot of power emanating from the heat (About 1-10 megawatts). One good application area is in a fusion-equipped Pluto orbiter that can be able to beam down power to a lander on the surface of a dwarf planet. Furthermore, it can also send back high –definition videos to earth.
The Direct Fusion Drive engine is a technological invention that will take space exploration a notch higher once it is completed. However, we still have a long way to go before we can finally make the dream a reality. As for now, we will keep waiting until the day it will be launched.