James Woodward and the Space Studies Institute has a Phase 2 NASA Innovative Advanced funded study. They are looking at the implementation of an innovative thrust producing technology for use in NASA missions involving in space main propulsion.
Dr. Heidi Fearn explained in a video made in 2017 how just scaling the power and size of the Mach effect propulsion causes problems. (heat, arcing and other problems). They currently believe they can scale the device to one newton of propulsion and then create large arrays of the devices for more thrust. The constant thrust could last for years or decades by using a nuclear power source.
For Mach effect propellantless propulsion it will be better to go to an array of smaller devices.
They expect 1-5 years to get to 1-5 millinewtons of thrust. (Using better materials and other near-term design improvements.)
Tajmar has replicated the 2 micronewton level and will scale to 12 micronewtons with a larger set of discs.
In 5-10 years, have an array of several devices to get to 10-20 millinewtons.
10-20 years, increase thrust to one newton per device.
Test arrays of a hundred one newton devices
MEGA space propulsion would be 1000+ of one newtons devices.
Hoped scaling to 0.4 meters per second per second acceleration
They have projected that if development proceeds as they hope a ship could be built in about 30-40 years that would be powered by a 5 MW nuclear power source.
If the MEGA drive ship could achieve 5 newtons per kWe. 1.2MWe would generate 6,000 newtons. If the spacecraft weighed 15 tons spacecraft then it could reach 0.4 meters per second per second of acceleration. This would be 4% of earth gravity acceleration.
After one year it would reach 12614 kilometers per second of speed or about 4.2% of the lightspeed.
After ten years it would reach 42% of lightspeed.
The Brachistochrone orbit travel time columns in the following table describe the trip times within the solar system.
1% acceleration is the fourth column with 0.01G of constant acceleration. This could be 6000 Newtons of thrust with a MEGA drive but a 60-ton spaceship. Anywhere in the solar system out to Pluto within 11 months.
The next column with 0.1G of acceleration could be 60,000 Newtons of thrust and a 60-ton spaceship. Anywhere in the solar system out to Pluto within 4 months.
The next column with 1G of acceleration could be 600,000 Newtons of thrust and a 60-ton spaceship. Anywhere in the solar system out to Pluto within 35 days.
Achieving constant 4 meter per second per second acceleration
Improving the acceleration would require
* increasing the thrust from devices
* making smaller and lighter devices for lighter thrust arrays
* improving the power to weight ratio of the nuclear or other power systems and heat radiators
Improving the thrust to 60,000 newtons for a 15-ton spacecraft would enable 4 meters per second per second of acceleration. 4 meters per second per second would be 40% of earth gravity acceleration.
After one month it would reach, 10368 kilometers per second or about 3.4% of lightspeed.
After one year it would reach 126140 kilometers per second of speed or about 42% of the lightspeed.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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