Helicity Space is making good progress fabricating key parts for their lab prototype of their nuclear fusion drive. This was described last month. Helicity Space has raised their seed round of over $3.5 million per Pitchbook but could have raised over $6 million.
The first prototypes would be better than current electric drives.
The ISP (fuel efficiency) will be 7000 to 159000. Chemical rockets are at 300-400 ISP. These would be 25 to 500 times more efficient with fuel. This will enable systems that have 1 year of constant acceleration.
The systems will scale from a few newtons of thrust up to 100,000 newtons or more even with initial conservative designs.
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3 thoughts on “Helicity Space Progress to Lab Fusion Prototype”
How could it ever enable systems that have 1 year of constant acceleration ?. The problem won’t be power but how they could ever carry 1 year worth of propellant.
I am just a Simple Man (said in my best Forest Gump voice).
If it takes X amount of energy to power one Helicity engine, why does it not just take 30X energy to power 30 Helicity engines?
I mean, yes, sure, recapture waste heat for more efficiency. But the term “waste” means it is not doing anything productive, like thrust.
So, even if you could recapture 100% of waste heat – something never done in the history of engines, ever, anywhere – that doesn’t change your thrust to unit of energy ratio from its theoretical limit.
This isn’t fusion then, it’s just Big Thrust. Continuous Drive sounds nice, but even with H3 as the fuel source – not even developed in sufficient quantities yet, according to Helicity itself – how does this overcome the limits of mass needed to get to fractional light speeds?
I am just a Simple Man.
On this 50+ anniversary of the last Apollo mission, we currently, today, have no capability of landing men (or women) on the Moon, or even getting beyond orbit and back again, safely. Not with SpaceX, SLS (hypothetically), or anything else to be built over the next few years, without a fuel depot on the way, which has its own issues. I am struck by how far drawing board graphics has progressed, and how far back actual missions have regressed.
“If it takes X amount of energy to power one Helicity engine, why does it not just take 30X energy to power 30 Helicity engines?”
Their argument is, as far as I could follow it, is that it DOES take 30x the energy to power 30 of their plasma guns. BUT if all those 30 plasma guns are then focused through the same copper coil nozzle then the efficiency of generating fusion in the nozzle increases. So it takes 30x the energy to run, but you get more than 30x the energy generated.
I did not follow WHY the efficiency of fusion is increased by having more plasma guns.
But anyway, assuming they are correct, if you have enough plasma guns, then you get enough fusion that the waste energy is now enough to run the plasma guns.
They did, I’ll admit, provide the best explanation as to why a space drive is a better first product than a earth bound power plant: A fusion generator with Q = 3 or so isn’t enough to be a viable power plant, but if that’s a rocket then you’ve got a rocket with 3 x the thrust of the same energy being used to power an VASIMIR or something. And that’s a very viable product. (Assuming that 3x extra power is in a form that can be turned into thrust, and not neutrons shooting uselessly through the walls and escaping.)
And, as with most alt-fusion projects, they have positive results and all they have to do is scale it up 5 orders of magnitude. Why 5 orders of magnitude is the usual factor for multiple projects with very different tech is left as an exercise for the reader.
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