Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Space Tethers: Stringing up the Solar System

All the methods we have used to reach space so far have been subject to the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation - propellant must be ejected and more and more of it is needed to go further.

What if we could break that equation with rotating orbital tethers?

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Hypervelocity Macron Accelerators

We look at the various ways of accelerating micro-scale projectiles up to hypervelocity (10-10,000 km/s) and their use in space.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

The Expanse's Epstein Drive

We aim to take a fictional propulsion technology from The Expanse, and apply the appropriate science to explain its features in a realistic manner.
This also applies to other SciFi settings that want a similar engine for their own spacecraft.

Friday, 27 September 2019

NTER: Nuclear Thermal-Electric Rocket

There is a type of nuclear propulsion that can have most of the acceleration of a nuclear thermal rocket but also the high Isp of an electric thruster. 
Let’s have a look at nuclear ‘thermal-electric’ engines and their advantages.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

How to Live on Other Planets: Uranus

The weirdest of the planets. A blue giant, resting on its side.
Could we find a home in the Uranian system?

Friday, 7 June 2019

Thermal Decomposition of CO2 with Nuclear Heat

A lot of effort must and will be put into combating climate change. We can however directly attack the root cause of it by reducing the amount of CO2 that we have released into the atmosphere.
We can enlist the help of ultra-high-temperature nuclear reactors to do this rapidly and efficiently.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Starship Lite: from rapid Interplanetary to Interstellar

Elon Musk stated that a stripped-down SpaceX Starship could become an interplanetary boost vehicle able to push probes towards the farthest objects in our Solar System. 

What other missions could the Starship ‘Lite’ do, and how quickly?

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Actively Cooled Armor: from Helium to Liquid Tin.

We have seen designs for long ranged particle beams and powerful lasers. Could they be the end-all, be-all of space warfare? Not if we fend off their destructive power with actively cooled armor.
Let's have a look at the different cooling solutions, from high pressure gas to liquid metal, and evaluate their relative effectiveness.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Nuclear Reactor Lasers: from Fission to Photon

Nuclear reactor lasers are devices that can generate lasers from nuclear energy with little to no intermediate conversion steps. 
We work out just how effective they can be, and how they stack up against conventional electrically-powered lasers. You might want to re-think your space warfare and power beaming after this. 

Monday, 18 February 2019

Cold, Laser-Coupled Particle Beams

This is a follow-up to the Particle Beams in Space post.

This time, we look at two concepts that can massively increase the effective range of particle beam: one is being applied every day in modern accelerators, and the other is an outgrowth of a tool used in biophysics.