A fusion rocket designed to travel 500,000 mph is under construction

Credit: Pulsar Fusion

A British aerospace company is working on a fusion rocket that it says will enable astronauts to visit Mars and other far-off worlds more quickly and explore places that are not now accessible to humans.

The challenge: Prolonged exposure to cosmic radiation and microgravity may result in serious health issues for astronauts. NASA should therefore plan its future missions to Mars to last no longer than four years, ensuring that astronauts return home in excellent health.

However, using current rocket propulsion technology, it will take seven months to even send astronauts to Mars. Approximately one-third of an astronaut's mission to Mars will be spent in transit, when the time spent returning to Earth is taken into consideration.

"We could send people to see the moons of Jupiter or the rings of Saturn with a fusion rocket." ADAM BAKER

The idea: UK-based aerospace business Pulsar Fusion thinks it can shorten the time it takes to go to Mars in half by using nuclear fusion, the same mechanism that drives the sun.

"Humanity has a great need for faster propulsion in our growing space economy, and fusion offers 1,000 times the power of conventional ion thrusters currently used in orbit," stated Richard Dinan, our chief executive officer.

The process of fusing two atoms is called fusion. Because nuclear fusion generates so much energy without emitting any harmful emissions, it has long been regarded as the holy grail of renewable energy research.

Many groups have succeeded in briefly starting fusion reactions by confining extremely hot plasma in electromagnetic fields. The challenge now is to figure out how to maintain them.

"Scientists have been unable to control the turbulent plasma as it heats up to hundreds of millions of degrees and the reaction simply stops," stated James Lambert, CFO of Pulsar Fusion.

Fusion Rocket: By using the atomic reaction to create escape velocity, Pulsar Fusion plans to develop a fusion rocket that will propel the spacecraft to 500,000 mph—the fastest manned rocket to date has flown at 24,791 mph.

It might be simpler to sustain a fusion reaction in space's ultracold vacuum than it is on Earth, despite the fact that this is a very ambitious aim. The time it takes to transport humans and autonomous vehicles throughout the solar system might be significantly shortened if Pulsar is successful.

According to Pulsar's propulsion engineer Adam Baker, "[a] fusion rocket could allow us to send people to Mars and bring them back in weeks, not months or years." It might make it possible to send humans on round-trip journeys to the outer planets of our solar system to see Saturn's rings and Jupiter's moons.

Considering the future As part of a recent partnership, artificial intelligence will be used by Princeton Satellite Systems (PSS), a pioneer in aerospace research and development, to simulate the behavior of heated plasma in fusion rocket engines. Additionally, he said that construction has started on a facility in the UK that would house an eight-meter fusion reaction chamber.

It intends to begin firing that camera in 2025 and reach fusion temperatures by 2027. To show that fusion rockets may power the upcoming era of space travel, the next stage would be to carry out a test firing in orbit.

According to Dinan, TechCrunch, "we are aware of no other technology that could enable us to leave our solar system in a human lifetime."

Reference: freethink

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