News for the spaceship junkies

Andrews Space & Technology (AS&T) introduced an innovative propulsion system that could significantly shorten round trips from Earth to Mars (from two years to only six months!) and enable our spaceships to reach Jupiter after one year of space traveling. The system, which may dramatically affect interplanetary space travel is called the Miniature Magnetic Orion (Mini-Mag Orion for short), and is an optimization of the 1958 Orion interplanetary propulsion concept.

this type of propulsion system can produce the same thrust as the Space Shuttle Main Engine, with 50 times more efficiency.
Due to the magnetic compression thrust technology, spacecraft could be smaller and lighter. The spacecraft itself will only have to carry a relatively small amount of fissionable material as fuel and will be able to reach speeds of approximately 10% of the speed of light

The article doesn’t specify the composition of the pellets, but since a “small amount of fissible material” will be on board as fuel and they have simulated it fissile materials in a magnetic field, it sounds like the pellets could be uranium or something heavy rather than a light material like hyrdogen or even tritium.
Sounds like rather than requiring a full-fledged detonation device on each “piece” of fuel (and being used up at several per second!), simple pellets with no supporting electronics etc would be needed, just the reaction chamber(s) and the magnetic bottle with a jet hole!
Much smaller, lighter, cheaper, easier, smoother, “cooler”, etc. A much better proposal than the original.

Of course, you still have all the problem of a nuke drive. I wonder how much power the non-nuclear “simulations” achieve.

Ah, more info at the Andrews site, and more pictures :slight_smile:

Well, this is from a paper published in 2003, so it isn’t exactly news.
I’ve had a listing of that particular propulsion system on my web site for ages

The pellets are subcritical masses of Californium 245.

The problem is that the Mini-mag is similar to the Orion propulsion system: it has a very high thrust at the expense of specific impulse.

This means that it is not as good as other systems when used for interplanetary propulsion. It is best used for lifting large payloads from the Earth’s surface into orbit.

Which isn’t going to happen, since anti-nuclear activists will howl with rage about a rocket that detonates sixty small nuclear explosions every minute.

I’d heard of MMO before, but I assumed it was news because they were getting funding for more experiments or something. Bah.

They did present a new/updated paper on for proposal “follow on” experiments to the AIAA last year though. That’s probably what brought it to some people’s attention. Here’s the abstract I guess it is.

…You realize the last post by Rhys on Deep Space Force was a year ago? Sigh.