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RE: starship-design: Fusion Cone Scoop
L. Parker writes:
> First, drag on an electromagnetic scoop: Not an issue, since the scoop is
> _attracting_ the ionized atoms, it is generating a net pull against a
> (relatively) stationary object. There IS NO drag, you realize acceleration
> out of the scoop process instead.
> Second, ionization of the interstellar medium: Requires only lasers, and
> relatively low powered ones at that. See Forward et. al., too many
> references to list here.
That depends on how asymmetrical the scoop field is. It doesn't peg my
implausibility meter to consider the possibility of having a scoop field
that attracts ionized gas in front of it. And yes, lasers are going to
be much more effective at ionizing a large quantity of gas than any
particle beam would be.
> Third, ignition of fusion burn: No outside ignition source required, the
> magnetic fields generated by the scoop and the velocity of the accelerated
> ionized atoms create a stellerator type fusion engine (Podovsky? I'm not
> sure...it was a Russian though.)
I'm wondering you couple the ship to the fusion exhaust such that the
ship realizes thrust from it.
> The only catch is getting the thing up to a velocity where it will work at
> all, very much like an air breathing ramjet. And yes, the density of the
> interstellar medium is still an issue. The lower the density, the greater
> the velocity required for ignition.
Presumably if you can get that ramscoop fusion system going you've
already figured out how to fuse stationary hydrogen, so just run a more
normal fusion reactor off of a booster tank of hydrogen fuel to get up
to the speed where you can ignite the ramscoop fusion system. Assuming
that's not up into high relativistic speeds, anyway.