Bussard space rocket is impossible

Illustration of a Bussard jet-powered ship.

Illustration of a Bussard jet-powered ship.
clarification: NASA/Public Domain

Bussard ramjet is one of the most powerful engines Famous for science fiction. aHe appears in many science fiction novels as number zero It’s even mentioned in Star Trek. Unfortunately, a recent study confirms that it is not possible even with the latest modifications.

If you remember files A review of the most important space propulsion engines, you will know that the Ramjet Engine The Bussard is nothing more than a space version of a jet engine, an air thruster that uses the speed of the aircraft itself to compress the air entering the engines. motivationAs it stands, it is fed by the same air, although it needs an additional motor to reach the proper starting speed.

There is no air in space, but there is a strange ionized hydrogen atom. In 1960, etake hydrogen nuclear physicist estadounidense Robert Boussard a theoryVisit About a potential engine that could capture hydrogen and compress it to run a fusion propulsion capable of reaching speeds much higher than those found in current space fuels.

Bussard or Bussard Ramjet Propeller was born. The problem with this jet space Is this in the space between the stars There is so little hydrogen that it is estimated that the “strainer” needed to collect it It must be the size of a dwarf planet (thousands of kilometers in diameter). Recent calculations by aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin also indicate that even with so little matter in space, the resistance of particles against a canopy of this size would nullify the fusion engine.

In 1969, another researcher was appointed John F. fishback Suggestion Solve the parachute problem using magnets that will generate a magnetic field capable of capturing hydrogen as an invisible lattice without resorting to massive physical structures. Fishback’s solution is exactly what they tried to prove Peter Schachnider LLC Albert Jackson, two researchers who are experts specifically at calculating electromagnetic fields for electron microscopy.

El nuevo estudio From Schschneider LLC It was just jackson It was published in Acta Astronautica and bears bad news for those who dreamed of huge spaceships with parachutes capable of picking up hydrogen to reach relative speeds. Fishback’s equations are incorrect in the sense that even with the idea of ​​magnetic fields, the size of the structures needed to generate those fields is simply not possible.

The authors started from a professionalThe fusion pulse is capable of twice the speed of the space shuttle. Even with such modest speed, The magnetic coils needed to collect enough hydrogen must have a diameter of 4,000 kilometers, which is certainly impractical for construction or maintenance.[[[[direct science via Ars Technica]

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