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View Full Version : High thrust ion engines?



Siguy
2008-Aug-25, 08:07 PM
This is kind of vague, but is there any possibility that within the near future we will have ion engines capable of thrusts like, say, 10kg/kw, and medium specific impulses? I know that MPD thrusters produce quite a bit of thrust, but they also use a lot of electricity. I think that if we manage to create ion engines with thrusts of several kilograms or tens of kilograms to the kilowatt, and couple them with efficient small nuclear reactors, like those found on nuclear subs, we could probably achieve near-scifi performance from interplanetary spacecraft. Any thoughts?

nauthiz
2008-Aug-25, 08:30 PM
I believe one of the larger limiting factors on the amount of thrust that can be produced is the power source. According to the Wikipedia page, it looks like the more energy-efficient ones suck up about 40 kilowatts for every newton of thrust.

Assuming everything scales linearly (which I realize is pretty much guaranteed to be false), producing 30 kN of thrust would take putting something like the Watts Bar 1 nuclear reactor in space.

Siguy
2008-Aug-25, 08:35 PM
I believe one of the larger limiting factors on the amount of thrust that can be produced is the power source. According to the Wikipedia page, it looks like the more energy-efficient ones suck up about 40 kilowatts for every newton of thrust.

Assuming everything scales linearly (which I realize is pretty much guaranteed to be false), producing 30 kN of thrust would take putting something like the Watts Bar 1 nuclear reactor in space.

What do you know, almost 1.21 "jiggawatts".

Siguy
2008-Aug-28, 12:31 AM
Any more thoughts?

JustAFriend
2008-Aug-28, 03:43 AM
Same as with the Cassini Saturn/Titan probe that used a tiny bit of plutonium for a power source:

Just try to arrange to loft a hefty-sized nuke plant out of Canaveral and see how many anti-nuke folk show up to tear down the fences!

We might have to try to mine nuclear materials elsewhere in the solar system before we can start using them in spacecraft......

novaderrik
2008-Aug-30, 05:35 AM
Same as with the Cassini Saturn/Titan probe that used a tiny bit of plutonium for a power source:

Just try to arrange to loft a hefty-sized nuke plant out of Canaveral and see how many anti-nuke folk show up to tear down the fences!

We might have to try to mine nuclear materials elsewhere in the solar system before we can start using them in spacecraft......
the simple solution would be to have another space agency launch the actual nuclear stuff into space..