Imploding Liner Fusion Propulsion System

NASA advanced innovative concepts has funded Michael LaPointe, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center to develop a fusion propulsion system.

It is an innovative modification to magneto-inertial fusion is proposed in which the pulsed, high current magnetic field coil and stationary central fuel target are replaced with a fast moving fusion fuel target fired axially into a static, high gradient magnetic field. As the target passes through the magnetic field gradient it effectively experiences a rapidly changing axial magnetic field, which induces strong azimuthal currents in the target liner to implode the fuel and reach fusion conditions. Among other advantages, eliminating the need to pulse the magnetic field coil allows the use of energy efficient superconducting coils in a geometry that more naturally lends itself to in-space propulsion. If successful, the proposed concept will substantially reduce Mars trip times and enable a robust architecture for human solar system exploration.