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NASA Plans Test of New Plasma Drive

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the please-don't-bring-carrie-ann-moss dept.

Mars 266

Sallust writes "Flightglobal has an interesting article about the testing of a new electrically powered plasma engine called the Vasimir. It's being developed by former astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz and promises to greatly reduce the time and fuel required for interplanetary journeys. According to the article: 'The Vasimir involves the injection of a gas such as hydrogen into an engine that turns it into a plasma. That plasma is then energised further using radio signals as it flows through the engine, a process controlled by electromagnetic waves from superconducting magnets. Accelerated and heated through this process the plasma is focused and directed as exhaust by a magnetic nozzle. Vasimir is many times more efficient than conventional chemical rockets and far less fuel is needed.' The developers are finalising an agreement with NASA to fit a scaled-down version of the engine to the ISS to conduct operational tests. There is also a concept video on YouTube suggesting a journey time for a manned craft to Mars on the order of 60-70 days."

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Yes, attach it to the ISS (4, Funny)

BigDaddyOttawa (948206) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500771)

What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Yes, attach it to the ISS (4, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500827)

It's okay as long as they remember to leave the parking brake on.

Re:Yes, attach it to the ISS (1)

sharpmarble (1327717) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500839)

Attaching it to the ISS makes more sense than building another vehicle on-orbit to attach it to. They could rename the ISS the International Space Ship and send it to various vacation spots around the solar system.

Re:Yes, attach it to the ISS (4, Insightful)

freddy_dreddy (1321567) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501155)

I think the point here is to exploit the recent discovery of water on Mars. With conventional fuels you have to take the return-charge with you. Concepts like these allow them to harvest Hydrogen on Mars for the return trip, which is pretty useful. The painful detail (apart from the complexity) is the mechanism for braking - you're f*d if that fails.

Re:Yes, attach it to the ISS (4, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501475)

actualy because this design heats the gas to a plasma state then uses EM waves to move it to create thrust - the idea could be used on just about any gas - your effeciency would be how much energy goes into heating it to a plasma state and keeping it there.

this is a great idea because they could design one engine and while the gas is consumed it could be replaced by any gas - and electricity is the true source of the power to run the engine..

we already know what gasses are readly avaliable on mars - design one to run on say H to get there (assume Hyrdogen is the easiset to heat to plasma sate) but have the engine also able to run on the gasses from Mars.. then when it gets there refill the tanks.. carge up the batteries (or use a nuke power source on the thing) and come on back - or keep going.

think of a ship with this type of drive.. then think about adding say a Bussard collector http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Bussard_collector [memory-alpha.org] (i know we would have to invent a bussard collector but the idea is not that hard)

if this works they way the say it does - it is going to be one of the best propultion advances for traversing our solar system.

and with us having probes leaving our system - the data from there might show that there is a good ammount of particals in the space between systems.. if that is true then you could use this to send probes to other systems. sure it would take awhile but i bet they can alwasy make improvements.

Re:Yes, attach it to the ISS (4, Interesting)

Omega996 (106762) | more than 6 years ago | (#24502057)

yeah, designing and building a bussard collector isn't that hard, it just needs something that can generate a magnetic field that doesn't diminish as the inverse square of the distance, since your magnetic or electrostatic funnel would have to be huge to pull in enough material to be worthwhile (even inside the heliopause). unless you're planning on not using a vehicle with any live crew or any sort of electronic equipment. I'm sure the difficulty of initiating and sustaining a proton-proton fusion to generate plasma is just a quick fix (no doubt you've already figured out the materials and fuel source for your carbon-nitrogen-oxygen fusion catalyser), as are the problems associated with getting the ramjet to speeds above the solar wind (unless the vehicle is making a quick one-way trip into the sun).

not much to do there, at all. You should get right on it, and we'll be heading toward Mt. Lookitthat within a few months. *rolleyes*

Re:Yes, attach it to the ISS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501291)

Test with a prototype first.

Can you attach it to my car?

Re:Yes, attach it to the ISS (2, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501569)

Careful, you might end up buried partway in a cliff [snopes.com] with a plasma drive hanging out your rear bumper.

Actually, the (supposedly) true story [blogspot.com] of the Rocket Car Legend is a rather interesting read.

Re:Yes, attach it to the ISS (1)

HydraSwitch (184123) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501773)

This is exactly what crossed my mind too! :)

Whoops - we ran smack into planet earth.
Or the moon - take your pick.

Do you know the way to San Josie? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24500783)

I gots to know

Makes me happy (4, Insightful)

SSIlver2002 (1287620) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500785)

It's stuff like this that makes me happy and brings a huge smile to my face. It also makes my imagination go wild! I hope something like this gets implemented sooner than later.

Re:Makes me happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24500847)

Warp 9, Lt.!

Impulse Power (1)

Republican Gun (1174953) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501451)

Actually it's impulse power. Warp is creating a bubble around the vehicle and moving the universe. At least that is what I learned in a Futurama episode.

Re:Impulse Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501823)

I learned that I could invent a 300% efficiency engine in a dream and forget about it in another dream.

Re:Impulse Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24502037)

Presumably other vehicles in warp at the same time would get shifted by your warping even though they're in a bubble of their own outside of normal space, otherwise things would be problematic. You'd need some sort of subspace semaphore so only one ship warped at a time. That'd be awkward.

plasma exit velocity? (5, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500801)

Neither summary nor TFA give any indication of the velocity of plasma exiting the engine. How does it compare with chemical rocket? Ion drive?

Re:plasma exit velocity? (5, Informative)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500887)

We can guess that it is similar to the DS-1 Ion drive [nasa.gov] which propels Xenon ions at 30 km/sec.

Re:plasma exit velocity? (5, Informative)

avandesande (143899) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501225)

From wiki:

Current VASIMR designs should be capable of producing specific impulses ranging from 3,000 to 30,000 seconds (jet velocities 30 to 300 km/s). The low end of this range is comparable to some ion thruster designs. By adjusting the manner of plasma production and plasma heating, a VASIMR can control the specific impulse and thrust. VASIMR is also capable of processing much higher power levels (megawatts) than existing ion thruster electric propulsion designs. Therefore it can provide orders of magnitude higher thrust, provided a suitable power source can be provided.

Re:plasma exit velocity? (1)

seanonymous (964897) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501507)

So, how many of these would be needed to equal the force of a small atomic bomb? Could this be a more fuel efficient way to nuke things from orbit?

I mean, I don't want to harm the environment any more than I have to, but some times, you just have to be sure about something.

Re:plasma exit velocity? (4, Interesting)

wurp (51446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500893)

This sounds a lot to me like it *is* an ion drive. I didn't RTFA, but a plasma is characterized by a separation of the electrons from the nuclei. The only difference between that and an ion drive is that not necessarily all electrons are stripped from the atom in an ion drive.

I don't know how (or if) you would distinguish between ionic hydrogen and a hydrogen plasma (hydrogen atoms have only one electron...)

In both cases you give the propellant momentum with either electric or electromagnetic force, and both are much more efficient than chemical rockets. I would also expect both to have miniscule thrust compared to chemical rockets, and hence only be appropriate for navigation when you already have orbital or superorbital velocities.

Re:plasma exit velocity? (5, Informative)

HRogge (973545) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501111)

Ion drives use electromagnetic fields to accelerate particles with an accelerator. Most times they use heavy atoms like xenon.

VASIMIR makes plasma from light elements like hydrogen and then use electromagnetic fields to heat the plasma... by controlling the temperature you can change the thrust/momentum the engine creates.
(at least that's what I heared).

Re:plasma exit velocity? (1)

wurp (51446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501693)

Well, actually I *do* know the difference between ionized hydrogen and hydrogen plasma - hydrogen plasma may have all the electrons present, they just won't "stick" too the atoms because they're too energetic (i.e. hot).

By definition, atoms in a plasma have lost their electrons due to temperature.

I really just wanted to point out that they're very similar. I'm sure HRogge is right regarding the differences.

Re:plasma exit velocity? (3, Funny)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500913)

More importantly how does it compare to twin ion engines? The empire wants to know!

QIE - Quad Ion Engines, now with the added benefit that they don't look like bowties. Under utilized as the name isn't very catchy...

Re:plasma exit velocity? (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501009)

radio heating scales (up) much more easily than ION thrusters.
Google 'microwave plasma balls' and you will get the idea.

Re:plasma exit velocity? (4, Funny)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501335)

Google 'microwave plasma balls' and you will get the idea.

I'm completely in awe that I didn't get a single porn site on the front page doing that search.

Re:plasma exit velocity? (5, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501093)

VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket) [wikipedia.org] is a variation on the Magnetoplasmadynamic thruster (MPDT) [wikipedia.org] that has been in development for a decade or two. These thrusters are coveted for their rare combination of high specific impulse (i.e. efficiency) and thrust to weight ratio (power). Such a combination makes them ideal for manned missions, as they allow space craft to fly under constant, high powered thrust. This is the "holy grail" of space travel because it cuts down the TIME in flight significantly. Thus the summary's mention of a 90 day flight time to Mars. (Normal flight time using a minimal Hohmann Transfer is ~1.5 years.)

Obviously, the exact thrust numbers depend upon the rocket. However, the VASIMR rockets have a range of specific impulses from 3,000 to 30,000 seconds. You can see how that compares to Ion Thrusters here [wikipedia.org] . Chemical rockets tend to top out at 500 seconds and thus don't even place when compared to VASIMR or Ion thrusters. The only reason why we want to keep using chemical rockets once we have better thruster technology is that all these new technologies lack the thrust to weight ratio to get a rocket off the ground. i.e. They are only good for space travel. Atmospheric flight need not apply.

Re:plasma exit velocity? (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501761)

The manufacturer has this chart [adastrarocket.com] showing that it's a variable thrust rocket - hence the name: Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (Vasimir).

Unsaid is where the power comes from to drive the rocket. To get the kind of thrust they're looking for, it'll most likely be a descendant of Admiral Rickover's reactors we use in submarines because they're compact power sources.

Unfortunately, we're talking about NASA which means they're not really planning on doing anything. Per the article, Griffin wouldn't commit to when any testing was to take place just that someday maybe they might test a scale model. The project started in 1979 so it's an old project that looks to be a great idea that isn't moving very quickly. For those of you who weren't alive back then, 1979 was the year Three Mile Island [nrc.gov] happened. That accident, and the resulting hysteria, put the kabosh on everything nuclear in the US for the past 30 years.

that's all good, but.. (-1, Offtopic)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500813)

will it blend?

Re:that's all good, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24500987)

... does it run 1080p?

Re:that's all good, but.. (1)

ag3ntugly (636404) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501261)

... does it run linux?

Re:that's all good, but.. (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501089)

No. Will this 'joke' blend?

Re:that's all good, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501191)

No. Will this 'joke' blend?

Well you can't use the Soviet Reversal, because the plasma engine really does propel you, so 'will it blend' and 'does it run Crysis' are about the only meme options left.

Re:that's all good, but.. (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501309)

If its plasma doesn't that mean it will be over 9000?

Re:that's all good, but.. (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501511)

Have we considered the option that no meme is required?

I wonder, aggregate across the internet - how much storage, energy, and bandwidth is wasted by pointless memes?

Re:that's all good, but.. (3, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501633)

I wonder, aggregate across the internet - how much storage, energy, and bandwidth is wasted by pointless memes?

... and on the day that the internet crosses some critical threshold in computing and storage capacity and actually becomes a self-aware entity, will it be really annoying?

Nice to see fact moving faster than fiction (3, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500823)

Who knows if this thing will work out, but it would be amusing if it did. In histrilogy beginning with Red Mars [amazon.com] , Kim Stanley Robinson had interplanetary journeys being trimmed down to such short lengths only a couple of hundred years from now, and KSR's work tried hard to be scientifically plausible.

Re:Nice to see fact moving faster than fiction (5, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500975)

Fact is often capable of moving faster than fiction, it just takes a collective decision to make it so. We could have been to Mars already, just like we could be feeding everyone in the world. We just don't care enough.

Re:Nice to see fact moving faster than fiction (1)

molo (94384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501007)

Yeah, but in the series, transport power was based on cheap cold fusion of water. They would accelerate a craft at 1g towards the target, drift for a time in the middle, and then turn around and decelerate at 1g for roughly the same time. It provided transport between Mars and Earth orbits on the scale of a week (depending on their relative positions).

Then the slow part of the journey was considered to be the time spent ascending and descending the space elevators to reach the planet's surface from orbit. It would take almost as long as the interplanetary trip between Earth and Mars.

-molo

Re:Nice to see fact moving faster than fiction (1)

downhole (831621) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501315)

And as I recall, the engine design in the book was based on using a laser to start a fusion reaction in pellets of fuel, and somehow directing the resulting energy output along an axis to provide thrust. Sounds cool, but I would expect we'd figure out how to get electricity out of a fusion reaction first.

All they have to do now... (3, Funny)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500831)

...is optimize the plasma conduits, although they'd better make sure not to divert too much power away from the main deflector array, I'd hate to have to reconfigure that thing yet again.

Re:All they have to do now... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501213)

It took longer for somebody come up with a Star Trek tie-in than I thought. Are we finally tired of that particular franchise?

As I recall, the plasma conduits on Star Trek were always blowing up. Very convenient for the writers in case they need to stage a tragic death on the bridge, though it seems strange that they'd route such a dangerous device into an area populated by so many key people. In any case, plasma is obviously dangerous and unreliable, and I wonder at NASA using it!

Re:All they have to do now... (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501971)

> though it seems strange that they'd route such a dangerous device into an area populated by so many key people

The EPS (electrified plasma system) is basically the power grid of a starship, it has to go anywhere that needs electricity.

http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/EPS [memory-alpha.org]

Re:All they have to do now... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501321)

Off topic but in response to your sig.... if you read http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1818862/posts [freerepublic.com] you will see that when a town in Georgia made gun ownership mandatory crime rates plummeted even as the towns population more than doubled.

Re:All they have to do now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24502043)

Off topic but do you think we (that is, regular and mostly untrained civilians) should really be allowed to carry guns on commercial flights?

cool (2)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500845)

all is left now is for someone to come up with a warp drive :p

Re:cool (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 6 years ago | (#24502021)

all is left now is for someone to come up with a warp drive :p

Nah, first we need to research Hydroponic Gardens, then Battle Pods and after that we need to get to work on those gyro-destabilizers. ONLY THEN WILL WE BE MASTERS OF ORION!

ION drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24500853)

So, basically, this is simply just an evolution of the good old ION drive thrusters from sci-fi days of yore, and actual implementation on a small handful of real spacecraft. [wikipedia.org]

Hrm, problematic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24500879)

I guess the Soviet reversal meme doesn't work here, since the plasma-rocket really does propel you.

In Soviet Russia, rocket plasma...you...propel?

Re:Hrm, problematic. (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501357)

In Soviet Russia, you propel plasma rocket. yeah. It works. You just started backwards.

horray! (3, Funny)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500891)

we will bring the name of Jeebus to Mars before the Apocalypse that Revelations speaks of begins.

*runs away after starting un-needed religious flamewar*

Electrically powered engine? (2, Funny)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500899)

I can see the Big Oil putting a stop to this ASAP!

Re:Electrically powered engine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501041)

Because Big Oil has anything to do with space travel.

You know, because we don't already use non-fossil fuels like, oh, hydrogen and oxygen.

Not only are you trolling, but your being an idiot about it too.

Re:Electrically powered engine? (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501665)

Or it could just be a joke, and you could really fail at grasping it....

But the radio signals (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24500901)

...have to be playing Magic Carpet Ride

Scotty (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500947)

But . . .Cap'n I"m giving her everything she's got!!

New, it is not (5, Informative)

ivanthered (153258) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500955)

The VASIMIR has been in developement since 1979.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable_specific_impulse_magnetoplasma_rocket [wikipedia.org]

I wonder where they will get the 200 kW to drive it from?

-------------
http://borislegradic.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Re:New, it is not (3, Informative)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501021)

Sounds like a job for a small, contained nuclear reaction.

Re:New, it is not (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501573)

That article indicates a thrust of .5N That sounds awfully low to me. For comparison the force of Earth's gravity on a human being with a mass of 70 kg is approximately 687 N. (from Wikipedia) did they mean .5kN?

Re:New, it is not (2, Informative)

luzr (896024) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501999)

Actually, for ion engine, 0.5N is quite a lot.

You have to consider that these engines are meant to be ON for very long periods of time. Small acceleration accumulates to pretty big velocities if you can afford to leave engines on.

And with this engine, you can.

Re:New, it is not (5, Funny)

qoncept (599709) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501577)

I'm sure in 1979 they could walk in to any corner drug store and buy plutonium, but this is 2008. No, no, the only thing that could generate that kind of electricity is a bolt of lightning, but unfortunately you never know when or where it's going to strike.

Re:New, it is not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501921)

Nice Back to the Future reference.

Re:New, it is not (1)

StormShaman (603879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501605)

3 nuclear reactors, as the video's summary states. If nuclear reactors can provide 1.21 GW, 200 kW should be a breeze.

Re:New, it is not (2, Interesting)

Nef (46782) | more than 6 years ago | (#24502025)

Seriously, it's only 200 kW? That being the case, a few square meters [wikipedia.org] of solar panel should do just fine, even at Mars like distances, you'd still be getting enough energy that it would be trivial ( something like 5 square meters would be sufficient at even Mars furthest distance of 2.5EE6 KM from the sun)

Yes, I know my figures aren't exact, but this is /., so I'm sure someone will come along and actually do the calculations.

Ion drive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24500969)

How does this compare to an Ion Drive system?

Engine? (4, Interesting)

jdb2 (800046) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500981)

Engine? The scaled down test version might use something "conventional" as its power source, such as an RTG. But, in order for the VASIMIR to work at full-scale, say in a human Mars mission, the power source is going need a VERY large energy density -- something not achievable with any known and tested chemical reaction. I have no idea why they call the power source the "engine" but perhaps it's to placate the environmentalist wackos who will go nuts after hearing the obvious : the "engine" or power source is a nuclear reactor. It will be interesting ( and probably funny ) to see how this plays out in the long run if NASA sticks with this technology.

jdb2

Re:Engine? (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501275)

Because NASA have never taken nuclear power sources up into space before..

(I actually feel like I need to specifically say; they have [wikipedia.org] , regularly. Voyager hasn't been sending data back to us for the last 30 years (and the next 30) from inconceivable distances running on biofuel.)

Re:Engine? (2, Informative)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501495)

I think the parent poster was trying to differentiate between an RTG (like Voyager has) which relies on the natural decay of radioactive isotopes and a full-bore nuclear fission reactor which induces decay with a neutron chain reaction.

Re:Engine? (1)

jdb2 (800046) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501593)

I think the parent poster was trying to differentiate between an RTG (like Voyager has) which relies on the natural decay of radioactive isotopes and a full-bore nuclear fission reactor which induces decay with a neutron chain reaction.

Exactly.

jdb2

Re:Engine? (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501657)

Oops, missed the RTG part, my mistake. Looking back 200kW is a bit much for an RTG

Re:Engine? (1)

somepunk (720296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501519)

Good luck with that. Not only a nuclear reactor, but a heat exchanger, a turbine, and a generator. That's a lot of complexity for a space mission. There are more direct ways to generate electricity with nuclear reactions, but none are really practical for this sort of power output, that I'm aware of. I'm thinking a more straightforward application of nuclear power would work better. Something like this. [nasa.gov]

Re:Engine? (2, Informative)

somepunk (720296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501683)

a better link [uaf.edu] .

Re:Engine? (2, Interesting)

jdb2 (800046) | more than 6 years ago | (#24502063)

Good luck with that. Not only a nuclear reactor, but a heat exchanger, a turbine, and a generator.

Uhhhhh? Have you ever heard of nuclear thermal rockets? NASA's NERVA [wikipedia.org] program? You know a nuclear reactor can heat substances other than just water. I don't know if you were trying to be funny because "a turbine, and a generator" is just stupid.

That's a lot of complexity for a space mission.

And what space mission is not complicated? There's this thing called "technology" that improves exponentially with time and better technology allows greater complexity.

There are more direct ways to generate electricity with nuclear reactions, but none are really practical for this sort of power output, that I'm aware of. I'm thinking a more straightforward application of nuclear power would work better. Something like this. [nasa.gov]

I had thought of Antimatter, but we're talking about a near term mission that uses proven and tested technology. ( for its energy source ) Maybe in 50 years we'll be using antimatter for all our energy storage needs, but that implies we'll have large supplies of Anti-Hydrogen ice. Can you tell me where I can buy some today? ( By the way, I'm not a skeptic when it comes to Antimatter based energy storage and propulsion. The problem now is that current particle accelerators are designed to study particle physics, not to produce antimatter. In fact, Robert Forward [wikipedia.org] showed that if we were to build accelerators specifically designed to produce antimatter,( perhaps a special linear wake-field accelerator ) we could potentially produce at least 1 milligram per year at a cost of only around a 10 million dollars. If one where to use many accelerators in parallel that where able to produce higher energies, that amount might be up in the gram-kilogram range.)

jdb2

Plasma cosmology posts inbound! (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#24500995)

Prepare for wackiness in 3, 2, 1...

creators completing tests of newclear power base (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501005)

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http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/world/29amnesty.html?hp
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/02/nasa.global.warming.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/05/severe.weather.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/02/honore.preparedness/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/opinion/01dowd.html?em&ex=1212638400&en=744b7cebc86723e5&ei=5087%0A
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/05/senate.iraq/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/washington/17contractor.html?hp
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/world/middleeast/03kurdistan.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080708/cheney_climate.html
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20080805/pl_politico/12308;_ylt=A0wNcxTPdJhILAYAVQms0NUE

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=weather+manipulation&btnG=Search
http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

What is the power source? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501091)

What is the power source for these drives? Was deep-space I powered purely by solar power? Can that produce enough power to be useful? Or is something like an RTG [wikipedia.org] or a nuclear power source more appropriate? I am also curious as to how much plasma they need to carry with them. I assume they eventually run out, but I gather that a very small amount lasts for a long time.

It would be awesome to see a purely electrically powered engine that required no fuel mass at all. I guess this is the closest thing we can get?

Re:What is the power source? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501161)

Most likely an RTG would be used, but one "hotter" and shorter lived than what deep space 1 had. After all, it would only need to last a year at most rather than the years upon years the cooler ones go.

Re:What is the power source? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501501)

I don't think Deep Space one had an RTG. It's not mentioned in the wikipedia article, and I can't find it on NASA's site about DS1 either [nasa.gov]

Re:What is the power source? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501789)

Hmm, I was thinking of voyager. Not sure about deep space 1 then!

Re:What is the power source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501895)

The power source is old plasma TVs, duh.

Or wait, do plasma TVs come out of the exhaust?

I forget how that works. Either way this explains why we still have so many.

Re:What is the power source? (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501929)

DS1 was powered by solar panels. They were very high-efficiency compared to other models of the time.

A nuclear reactor poses another set of problems - it's really hard to get rid of excess heat in a vacuum. Those fins you see between the yellow tanks in the YouTube video are radiators. It's interesting that the ship appears to use three very big RTGs for power placed in long structures far from the crew compartment but the main source of radiated heat seems to be the engine.

But it's an interesting video.

This could be good but... (2, Funny)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501145)

Make sure you are not an ensign on this ship. Additionally if your in a red shirt it would be best to stay away from the plasma conduits. Or yellow shirt for the next generation of this engine.

energized using radio signals (2, Funny)

KeithJM (1024071) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501157)

That plasma is then energised further using radio signals

I'll bet they're broadcasting the plasma's college fight song to it.

Re:energized using radio signals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501627)

that sounds cool.. they could just say microwaves... most ppl understand that... I do for all the frogs and insects tossed in when I was a kid.

microwaves to and to the reaction is pretty cool but these guys are going to be using microfusion reactors i hope. the energy payoff will hopefully out do the input.

FYI (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501171)

Just to make sure people know, VASMIR is basically an Ion engine that you can throttle the Specific Impulse. Hence if you need a sudden acceleration you can make that happen, but at the cost of fuel efficiency, or on the flip side if you need something efficient and don't care how long it takes either way VASMIR is the engine for it...I really look forward to when they start using it regularly

The drive was tested long ago . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501181)

back in 1975 [imdb.com] - or was it 1999?

Oh well, that's typical of /., isn't it?

Ad Astra (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501201)

I was surprised to see that NASA allowed this development to go on in Costa Rica. Chang-Díaz may have the company in Texas, but the bulk of the operation is out of Costa Rica. Little Security on this project. In fact, if you hire on in America, you need a security clearence, but in Costa Rica, none. More importantly, the bulk of the design work is being done in Costa rica.

One-way Ticket. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501215)

I didn't see a video of anyone coming back.

JG.

UFOs (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501351)

Reminds me that lots of UFOs reported by pilots and military personal are reported to be surrounded by plasma. So if the aliens use that to achieve their blazing speed we must be on the right direction.

Just make sure... (3, Funny)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501421)

...and get the ownership rights for the drive squared away before you make the trip to Mars -- the last time this happened, the resulting legal battles (between the UN and some free-love hippie with a strange fixation for water) lasted for years.

Use for terresttrial power generation? (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501503)

Can we use this puppy on earth to generate electricity in a cost efficient way?

Re:Use for terresttrial power generation? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501607)

No, this uses energy with fuel to function. What your asking isn't be very far from asking "will an electric motor generate electricity in a cost efficient way?"

Re:Use for terresttrial power generation? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 6 years ago | (#24502005)

I think you meant "...in an energy efficient way."

Because an electric motor will generate electricity in a cost efficient way, provided you're not paying for the electricity input!

Better Names (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501601)

How about the Franklin drive or Chang-Diaz Drive?

VASIMR Info available on Atomic Rocket Page (2, Interesting)

dlapine (131282) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501619)

Try this Atomic Rocket website [projectrho.com] for some more information on this type of engine outside of Wikipedia. What's interesting about this type of engine is that it's capable of trading thrust (what you want to liftoff) for Specific Impulse (what you want in orbit to get best reaction mass efficiency).

This is a pretty good site for information on all types of potential/possible/theoretical propulsion systems, and what it would take to do "real" solar system space travel. That being said, space travel (even within the bounds of just our solar system) via our current level of technology bites.

As someone else noted, this type of propulsion requires about 10MW of electrical energy to function. That energy is not provided by the propulsion system. Something else has to provide it in a compact, dense and energetic form- namely a nuclear reactor onboard the craft. That's why this type of engine shows up at the "Atomic Rocket" website, even though the engine itself doesn't use any nuclear reactions. Some people might not appreciate that the exhaust is not radioactive, as the power plant is just used for electricity.

Unlike a chemical rocket, a spacecraft using this engine would be able to get to orbit with some payload, and would not resemble "a disintegrating totem pole" getting there. Unfortunately, it also requires a nuclear reactor, a VASMIR engine, a large amount (50-75% of the whole thing) of reaction mass, and probably, wings [projectrho.com] .

Re:VASIMR Info available on Atomic Rocket Page (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501975)

Unlike a chemical rocket, a spacecraft using this engine would be able to get to orbit with some payload, and would not resemble "a disintegrating totem pole" getting there.

If by "get to orbit" you mean "take off from the ground and travel upward into orbit around the Earth," I don't think this engine is able to do that. Assuming this plot [adastrarocket.com] is correct, 10MW gives you 40 Newtons of thrust (less than 10 pounds) at maximum exhaust velocity. It's great for long trips (like to Mars) where you need as much impulse as possible for a given reaction mass, over a long period of time, but is completely useless for getting off the ground.

Where are the Bad Name police...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24501783)

Why does this have to sound like a treatment for "feminine itch"? Seriously.

Hmmmm... (1)

tiny1877 (1060160) | more than 6 years ago | (#24501847)

Is it going to burn out after 2 months like my 2 42" Panasonic plasma screens?
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