Open Questions: Spacecraft and Space Propulsion

[Home] [Up] [Glossary] [Topic Index] [Site Map]

Introduction


Recommended references: Web sites

Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Recommended references: Books

Introduction



Recommended references: Web sites

Site indexes

SpaceRef: Future Technology
External links to pages dealing with various propulsion technologies (and other space exploration technology).


Sites with general resources

NASA Space Science: Project Prometheus
Information on a planned project to develop space propulsion systems using ion engines and fission or radioisotope nuclear-electric power.
NASA Human Spaceflight: Propulsion
Overview of propulsion technologies. More detail may be found at Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory.
Institute for Space and Nuclear Power Studies
Research and development in the School of Engineering at the University of New Mexico. Site describes research projects and provides related resources.
Cosmos 1: The First Solar Sail Spacecraft
Describes a project of The Planetary Society that will test the idea of solar sails in space for the first sime
Cosmos 1 Official Mission Tracking Site
News and general information related to the privately-funded Cosmos 1 project.
SMART-1
Experimental mission of the European Space Agency, whose "primary objective is to flight test Solar Electric Primary Propulsion." The site includes articles on SMART-1 Propulsion and several more on Electric Spacecraft Propulsion in general. Related pages: SMART-1 overview, SMART-1 factsheet, Ion drive versus chemical rocket comparison. Another general page on SMART-1: here.
Electric Propulsion Laboratory (EPL)
Research facility of the European Space Agency that focuses on space propulsion technology, especially low/medium power electric propulsion.
In-Space Propulsion
"A broad collaborative team of scientific and engineering researchers and technologists at NASA field centers, university laboratories, and other government and commercial facilities." Purpose is "to significantly reduce the time and cost required for spacecraft to reach their destinations."
NASA Breakthrough Propulsion Physics (BPP) Project
BPP was a NASA-sponsored project from 1996 to 2002 that investigated the possibilities of exotic propulsion technologies which required no propellant mass and could achieve maximum speeds.
Warp Drive, When?
An assessment by Marc Millis "of the prospects for achieving the propulsion breakthroughs that would enable such far-future visions of interstellar travel." The "web site focuses on the propulsion related issues, explaining the challenges of interstellar travel, existing propulsion ideas, and the possibilities emerging from scientific literature that may one day provide the desired breakthroughs."


Surveys, overviews, tutorials

Spacecraft propulsion
Article from Wikipedia.
Setting Sail in the Sun
September 2010 article in Astrobiology Magazine. "Propelled by sunlight pressure, large lightweight sails made of ultrathin aluminum-coated plastic could one day take probes to the edge of our solar system and other stars."
Eight high-tech ways to propel a spaceship
It's more like pulp science fiction in some ways, but this December 2008 article from Cosmos provides a handy checklist of possible future forms of spacecraft propulsion.
NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT)
Information on NASA's next generation (post-2007) ion propulsion system.
Ion Propulsion
Information on the ion propulsion engine used in the Dawn spacecraft.
Could NASA Get To Pluto Faster? Space Expert Says Yes - By Thinking Nuclear
Interview with space propulsion expert Paul A. Czysz about possible nuclear power propulsion systems.
Ion engine could one day power 39-day trips to Mars
July 2009 New Scientist article about ion propulsion. "Researchers are testing a powerful new rocket engine propelled by charged particles instead of chemical fuel - one day it could shorten Mars trips from six months to one."
Interstellar Spaceflight: Is It Possible?
December 2005 article from Physorg.com. Discusses light sail, nuclear fusion, Bussard ramjet, and antimatter propulsion systems.
Frequently Asked Questions about Ion Propulsion
Information provided by NASA, in relation to the Deep Space 1 mission (which uses ion propulsion).
Solar Electric (Ion) Propulsion
Information on the ion propulsion engine used in the Deep Space 1 mission.
Dual Stage Four Grid Thruster Development
News and information about an ion propulsion system.
Magnetized Beamed Plasma Propulsion (MagBeam)
Magbeam propulsion is "a system where large power units are placed permanently in orbit around critical regions of a planet. With a beamed plasma system, spacecraft can be pushed or pulled to perform orbital transfers around the planet or accelerated to other planets at essentially no cost."
Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion (M2P2)
"Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion (M2P2) is an advanced plasma propulsion system that will enable spacecraft to attain unprecedented speeds, with minimal energy and mass requirements. It will create a large scale magnetic bubble around the spacecraft to ride the solar winds, and accelerate the spacecraft to unprecedented speeds."
Plasma Thruster
Transcript of August 2004 Australian TV program about a new type of ion/plasma propulsion system.
Setting sail for the stars
May 12, 2000 BBC news story about space sail technology.


Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

The Efficient Future of Deep-Space Travel--Electric Rockets
Edgar U. Choueiri
Scientific American, February 2009
Efficient electric plasma engines are propelling the next generation of space probes to the outer solar system.
Zip Drive
Ed Regis
Wired, January 2001, pp. 96-108
2018 may be the most reasonable target date for a manned mission to Mars. Various propulsion technologies are being developed as alternatives. Plasma devices such as Vasimr are one candidate, but there are others, including conventional chemical rockets, Hall effect thrusters, and field emission electric propulsion.
The VASIMR Rocket
Franklin R. Chang Diaz
Scientific American, November 2000, pp. 90-97
VASIMR is an acronym for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket. This type of propulsion system attempts to combine the advantages of powerful, fuel-guzzling rockets witm more efficient but significantly weaker technologies.
Travelin' Light
Ron Cowen
Science News, August 21, 1999
Explanation of solar sails for spacecraft propulsion.
21st-Century Spacecraft
Freeman J. Dyson
Scientific American, September 1995, pp. 114-116A
There are at least five promising space propulsion systems: nuclear-electric propulsion, solar-electric propulsion, laser propulsion, solar sails, and electromagnetic ram accelerators. The author believes solar-electric propulsion has the edge.


Recommended references: Books


Home

Copyright © 2002 by Charles Daney, All Rights Reserved