Magnetic Fusion Plasma Engines and Outer Space

Magnetic Fusion Plasma Engines and Outer Space

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Current technologies are not capable of leaving our solar system since they cannot support this type of travel. However, there is one developing technology that could enable intergalactic travel: Magnetic Fusion Plasma Drives (MFPDs). These systems might make it possible to travel more quickly to far-off places both inside and outside of our solar system.

MFPDs (also known as fusion propulsion systems) are propulsion systems with higher energy densities and efficiency than conventional chemical rockets and could offer quick and effective propulsion for expeditions to distant planets or even intergalactic travel.

According to Interesting Engineering, MFPDs rely on nuclear fusion, which is the process of combining light atomic nuclei (typically isotopes of hydrogen, such as deuterium and tritium) to release a tremendous amount of energy, a process that is fundamentally different from the nuclear fission reactions used in nuclear power plants and atomic bombs. Nuclear fusion reactions are used to create fast-moving, high-energy plasma in MFPDs. High-speed plasma expulsions follow, producing thrust for propulsion.

This method of propulsion has various advantages, like significantly higher exhaust velocities that lead to faster travel durations, less fuel consumption, and higher efficiency.

There are, however, technical difficulties when creating functional fusion propulsion systems, since it is challenging to achieve and maintain the high conditions necessary for nuclear fusion on a spacecraft.

Assistant Professor at Leiden University and Board Member of the Swiss quantum technology developer “Terra Quantum AG” Florian Neukart spoke to Universe Today and said: “While the journey to realize the MFPD concept will undeniably be layered with challenges and scientific hurdles, the potential payoff is monumental. Achieving reliable, effective, and efficient fusion propulsion could redefine the boundaries of achievable goals, propelling humanity into a new era of exploration, discovery, and understanding of the cosmos.”