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Re: starship-design: Plasma rocket engine makes space flight much faster - 10 Feb 2000

"L. Parker" wrote:
> It may not be warp speed, but a new rocket engine concept in design at the
> Oak Ridge Centers for Manufacturing Technology could make space flight a
> much faster business than it is already. That would be good news for
> astronauts facing long stretches away from home on interplanetary missions.
> ORCMT?s Radio Frequency (rf) and Microwave Technology Center at the Oak
> Ridge Centers for Manufacturing Technology is collaborating with NASA to
> develop a high-powered plasma rocket engine prototype, a concept NASA will
> consider for high-speed interplanetary propulsion. The system is being
> designed as proof-of-principle for the Variable Specific Impulse
> Magnetoplasma Rocket, or VASIMR.
> According to Stan Milora of ORNL?s Fusion Energy Division, where the ORCMT
> center is located, a gas with a low molecular weight, probably helium, will
> be ionized, heated with rf waves and expelled from the rocket engine.

Sounds good but for 2 things.
1)  Still no source power for said engine.
2)  Is not helium going to be the first chemical element that we run out
around 2010?

> "People do love to go to weird places for reasons we can't imagine -- mostly
> because they have too much money."
>                             - Freeman Dyson

"We do not inherit our time on this planet from our parents...
 We borrow it from our children."
The Lagging edge of technology: