Robert Zubrin has new propellantless space propulsion concept – Dipole Drive

Robert Zubrin was an inventor of the magnetic sail with Dana Andrews when they looked at the drag of a magnetic scoop intended for a Bussard ramjet. The magnetic sail would be great for a lighter braking mechanism for interstellar laser pushed vehicles.

Robert also was a reviewer for the electric sail paper. It also has drag and has positive charge that pushes against the solar wind.

Robert has thought up something he previously called an enhanced electric sail but now calls the dipole drive.

He has two screens one positive and one negative. Outside of the screens the positive and negative cancel out but between them there is strong field going from positive to negative.

Protons get accelerated between the screens. Electrons are reflected and could be used to generate power.

Electrons only neutralize 2% of the proton thrust. Protons are 1842 times heavier.

The charges can be flipped on the screens to generate drag.
The screens can be moved to get thrust in different directions.

114 millinewtons per kilowatt at 400 kilometer altitude and 14 millinewtons per kilowatt at 1000 kilometers.

For interplanetary against the solar wind it can produce 3 millinewtons per kilowatt.

It can go faster than the solar wind.

6-40 years to get to 550 AU. 6 years if the power system is light 1 kilogram per kilowatt but 40 years if the power system is 50 kilograms per kilowatt.
Beamed power would improve the performance.
200 years to accelerate to 1% of light speed.

by –
Sources – Youtube, Robert Zubrin, Breakthrough Conference

Other Zubrin article at Nextbigfuture:

Zubrin fixes the Drake equation that estimates the amount of technologically advanced aliens in the galaxy to allow for interstellar travel and biosphere reboots