Categories: Military / Defense

Advanced Space Propulsion Study – Antiproton and Beamed Power Propulsion, October 1987

This document is a final report on a 1987 Advanced Space Propulsion Study focusing on antiproton and beamed power propulsion. The study aimed to monitor research at the forefront of physics and engineering to discover new spacecraft propulsion concepts, with an emphasis on antiproton annihilation propulsion​​.

Antiproton annihilation propulsion is highlighted as a major new form of propulsion that has moved from science fiction to serious scientific and engineering investigation. The use of antiprotons as the form of antimatter is crucial for propulsion, as the annihilation of antiprotons with protons can efficiently convert rest mass into energy​​.

The report discusses the application of antiproton annihilation to propulsion, explaining how charged ions resulting from the annihilation can be collected in a thrust chamber and used to produce thrust. It also notes that antimatter must be artificially created and requires significantly more energy to produce than can be extracted from the annihilation process​​.

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The process of making antiprotons is described, involving high-energy proton beams striking a metal target to generate antiprotons, which are then separated and directed into a storage ring​​. Storing antimatter involves capturing antiprotons in electromagnetic traps, with efforts underway to capture larger quantities and develop more compact storage methods​​.

Antimatter engines are discussed, with the potential use of antihydrogen microcrystals as a highly efficient propulsion fuel. The report highlights the need for further research and development in this area, including the design of rocket engines that utilize antimatter​​.

Future plans for antiproton annihilation propulsion are outlined, with recommendations for new programs and research initiatives to advance the technology and explore its potential for space propulsion​​.

Beamed power propulsion is also explored as an alternative to traditional rocket propulsion. This concept involves using an external energy source to propel a spacecraft, potentially offering significant advantages in terms of efficiency and performance​​.

Other advanced propulsion concepts investigated include metallic hydrogen as a high-energy rocket fuel, tether space transportation systems, and unconventional applications of solar sails. These studies aim to expand the range of options for future space missions and enhance propulsion capabilities​​.

The report concludes with a discussion on the potential of solar sails for unconventional missions, highlighting the historical development of the concept and the principles behind solar sailing​​.

 Advanced Space Propulsion Study – Antiproton and Beamed Power Propulsion, October 1987 [215 Pages, 11.62MB]

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This post was published on February 19, 2024 6:14 pm

John Greenewald

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