Nuclear fusion breakthrough to power space as humans could soon leave the solar system | Science | News

The recent breakthrough in generating nuclear fusion could one day pave the way for allowing humans to leave the solar system. Earlier this week, researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory of the Nuclear Security and Homeland Security Administrations in Washington announced they had successfully cracked the code and created a nuclear fusion reaction that produced more energy than it consumed. Nuclear fusion reactions involve “merging” hydrogen atoms together rather than splitting large atoms apart, generating vast amounts of energy in the process.

As the world strives to end its reliance on fossil fuels, Russian or not, the power generated from nuclear fusion has been tipped to help create an almost limitless source of power.

In addition to providing the world with a power source similar to the Sun, this breakthrough could breathe new life into the dream of powering fusion-powered rockets.

However, researchers are divided on this issue, with some dismissing the idea altogether, saying the heavy components required for fusion could make them unsuitable for space travel.

Speaking to, Paul Gilster, a writer and editor for the Centauri Dreams website, said that while he had no doubt that the merger can be managed for space exploration purposes, he estimated that such technology would arrive decades in the future.

He said: “This work is encouraging, then, but it should not diminish our investigation into alternatives such as emitted power as we consider missions beyond the solar system.”

Meanwhile, experts like Richard Dinan, the founder of UK-based Pulsar Fusion, believe that fusion is actually a much simpler technology than using fusion to generate power.

He said: “If fusion can be achieved, which people are finally beginning to see what it is, then both fusion power and propulsion are inevitable. One gives us the ability to power our planet indefinitely, the other the ability to leave our solar system. . It’s a big problem, really.”

The former Made In Chelsea star said escape velocities generated from a fusion plasma are estimated to be about a thousand times greater than a Hall-effect thruster, which is electrical propulsion hardware that uses electric fields and magnetic fields to create and expel a plasma.

READ MORE: Nuclear fusion breakthrough ‘will go down in history’ when code is cracked

In a major step forward for the Bletchley-based company, it has received funding from the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to develop “Nuclear Fission-Based Integrated Power Systems for Electric Propulsion”.

Mr Dinan previously told that this type of rocket technology could drastically reduce the time it takes to get to Mars and could one day allow humans to inhabit other planets outside our Solar System.

Once developed, the engines can send rockets through the cosmos at hypervelocities in deep-velocity travel. But currently, Pulsar is making several different types of advanced space rocket engines that, while not quite at that stage yet, will help pave the way toward a fusion-powered rocket.

Not only could its technology eventually reduce travel times in space, the company claims, but the fuel used in so-called plasma thrusters could also save spacecraft operators millions of pounds in operating costs, and could also increase the value of the spacecraft data product. .

Meanwhile, Ralph McNutt, a physicist and chief scientist for rocket science at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, hailed the advancement of nuclear fusion at NIF as a “significant milestone.”

However, regarding space exploration, he said: “It should be a sobering thought that, despite all the work at NERVA/Rover, there is still no working nuclear thermal rocket engine, and the promise of electric nuclear propulsion only for space travel.” He had a brief flash with SNAP-10A in April 1965.”

He said that while the actual use of inertial fusion confinement in a functional spacecraft has been a long-standing dream, achieving it will be unlikely for a long time.

He said: “Space travel has always been difficult. Just because NASA has ‘blazed the trail’ that many commercial entities are now following doesn’t mean space has gotten any easier, but the new ICF results have added to the brilliance aspirational on the horizon of the future.

“That said, no one should be fooled into thinking that space will somehow not be difficult one day. It’s called ‘rocket science,’ with all that it implies in popular culture for a reason.”

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