Product/Service - Direct Fusion Drive (DFD)
- Space Utilities
- Resources - Energy
Nuclear Fusion Power
- Nuclear Power
- First launch
- Not announced
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has licensed the technology for Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) a fusion-powered rocket engine that could take people on a mission to orbit Mars for 30 days with total trip duration of 310 days, something that is impossible with chemical or nuclear fission engines.
The mission could be launched on a single NASA Space Launch System (SLS) booster and be ready when the SLS is available for human spaceflight. This would lead to human lander missions and Mars bases. Current experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are exploring basic physics principles of the proposed engine’s fuel-confinement scheme at small scale. The licenses also cover a potential new and novel magnetic fusion facility, with applications that include generating electricity for power stations and propelling space travel.
The magnetic device would create a cigar-shaped plasma—the superhot, electrically charged gas that fuels fusion reactions—inside a cylinder that is some 20 feet long and could produce up to 10 million watts of power. Propulsion would come from the stream of high-speed fusion exhaust that would blast into space through a magnetic nozzle. See PPPL Magnetic Nozzle Experiment below.
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