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Theoretical propulsion methods for space travel

MrsStarbuck

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Report this Oct. 12 2009, 11:52 am

I'm sure this has been discussed before, but I couldn't find a thread on it.

If you wanted to create a fictional spaceship for interstellar travel, but you wanted the propulsion system to be at least based in real physics (however loosely), what would you come up with for a propulsion system?

I've been reading about several theoretical propulsion systems that have been investigated in the last few years and the following ones interested me the most. However, the scientific knowledge of some people on this board is far superior to mine, so I wondered what your takes on all of these were.

(And I have to say that I haven't included Alcubierre Drives in this list because they're very similar to warp drives, and I was looking for something different).

So:
- Quantum Tunneling (if we could somehow transfer the effects to macroscopic objects)

- Dark matter as a reactionary mass for propulsion

- Quantum Vacuums and the Casimir effect

Do you think any of these would be viable methods for space travel? Even if you had to 'adapt' current physics to make them work.

Or if there are any others, that aren't too similar to warp drive, but you think are worth mentioning then please do and I'll read up on them.

Thanks.

GrandLunar2007

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POSTS: 1092

Report this Oct. 12 2009, 12:09 pm

I don't think mine would be too interesting, as my propulsion would be based on Project Orion (not to be confused with the Orion spacecraft NASA is making).

This project involves a big ship with shock absorbers that detonates a nuclear device and uses the force of the explosion to propel it.
The nuke would be encapsulated with a working medium to push the spacecraft with. This can nearly anything. My choice would probably be water. Or better yet, ice.

You wouldn't want to use the nukes near a planet, so perhaps convential HE explosives could be used for orbital manevours (this can work if the explosive contains it's own oxidizer, which I'm sure most do anyway).

Not very imaginative, I know, and you're restricted to sub-light speeds.
But it is feasible within current technological applications.

lanceromega

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POSTS: 3859

Report this Oct. 12 2009, 12:14 pm

Quote (MrsStarbuck @ Oct. 11 2009, 12:52 pm)
I'm sure this has been discussed before, but I couldn't find a thread on it.

If you wanted to create a fictional spaceship for interstellar travel, but you wanted the propulsion system to be at least based in real physics (however loosely), what would you come up with for a propulsion system?

I've been reading about several theoretical propulsion systems that have been investigated in the last few years and the following ones interested me the most. However, the scientific knowledge of some people on this board is far superior to mine, so I wondered what your takes on all of these were.

(And I have to say that I haven't included Alcubierre Drives in this list because they're very similar to warp drives, and I was looking for something different).

So:
- Quantum Tunneling (if we could somehow transfer the effects to macroscopic objects)

- Dark matter as a reactionary mass for propulsion

- Quantum Vacuums and the Casimir effect

Do you think any of these would be viable methods for space travel? Even if you had to 'adapt' current physics to make them work.

Or if there are any others, that aren't too similar to warp drive, but you think are worth mentioning then please do and I'll read up on them.

Thanks.

1. - Quantum Tunneling (if we could somehow transfer the effects to macroscopic objects)

The distant cover by Quantum tunneling is based on the quantum wave form of an object. For a photon it can be several meters, for something as large as spaceship, it would be less than the diameter of an atom (yeah seem strange that large objects have smaller wavelength than tiny one, but that QM for you). So even if you could cause an object to Tunnel it doesnot buy you much do to tiny distants that you would travel.

2. Dark matter as a reactionary mass for propulsion - doable but the problem is containing dark matter, do to lack of interactions with the electromagnetic force.

Dark matter and anti dark matter ( such neutrilino and antineutrilino) could be trap as a power source, but the question again is how do you handle something that can only interact with normal matter via gravity...

3. ?Quantum Vacuums and the Casimir effect - again doable, but the effort of using both may give you less bang for the bucks than normal propulsion methods.

One paper based on QV as propulsion has a terminal velocity of several meters per second, and the need to generate enought energy to basically drive a mirror close to speed of light to see any kind of effect.

We have already discuss Casimir effect as allowing us to create a form of FTL drive, but we would still need to accelerate the craft to near to light speed in order to see and FTL effects.

there is a neat website you should check that an archive of NASA Break thru propulsion group that deals with possible space drives.

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/technology/warp/warp.html

MrsStarbuck

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Report this Oct. 12 2009, 12:50 pm

Thanks for the responses guys. You've given me quite a bit more to read up on :)

dryson

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Report this Oct. 12 2009, 3:22 pm

Mrs. StarBuck,
              You are among an elite group here at Star Trek .com. A group that looks for the light in what can be instead of huddling around a fire that can neither be stoked nor estinguished but only provides heat to those looking to remain in a constant state of unchanging ideas so that it is easier for them to popularize theirself from.

Although my concept engine is theoretical, the idea is based off of real world components.

The first part of the engine is the Bussard Reflector Array or BRA. The operation of the BRA is the reverse of how Bussard first theorized how his ramscoop should operate.


Quote
Due to the presence of high-energy particles throughout space, much of the interstellar hydrogen exists in an ionized state (H II regions) that can be manipulated by magnetic or electric fields.


Now since hydrogen exists in an ionized state and can be manipulated by magnetic or electric fields to draw or pull the hydrogen atoms towards the Bussard Ramjet then in all practicallity the reverse process of the Ramjet can be used to clear a path through the interstellar medium. The reason why
an unobstructed path must be cleared from the ship is easy to see. As a ship goes faster the ship occupies more space then the ship would have occupied if the ship had been traveling at a slower rate of velocity. When the ship occupies more space at a faster rate of velocity the slow moving particles that the ship had been able to easily navigate through become a wall of resistance that the ship must navigate through which will cause the the ship to use more fuel in order to continue to occupy the space ahead of the ship. Eventually the ship would reach a max speed potential because of the inability of the ship to be able to breach the build up of particles in space that create the bounding field in front of the ship. The idea behind the BRA is to create a field around the ship using the reverse process of how the Bussard Ramjet operates, instead of pulling hydrogen atoms towards the collector the array would attenuate it's field around the ship so that the magnetic and electrical fields would interact with the hydrogen in an ionized state so that when the hydrogen is manipulated, the hydrogen would be forced around the ship as a eliptical stone causes the water to flow around the stone in a smooth transition from the bow of the ship to the aft of the ship.

The BRA's would be placed around the ship in such a way that the emitters would each produce a field of coverage that would make up the the complete field.

There would be two BRA Nacelle's that would create the field along the longitude section of the ship, the forward section of each nacelle would be responsible for creating a field between the distance from the northern most circumferance or hemisphere of the emitter to the western and eastern hemispheres of the emitter to the area of circumferenace on the primary hull where a line that is tangent from the forward BRA emitter of the nacelle to the outside circumferance on the primary hull and a tangent line from the forward BRA emitter to the southern hemisphere of the primary hull. The field emitted in this area will keep the hydrogen atoms from building up causing a drag potential to occur that would cause stress upon the ship that would other wise possibly cause internal structural failure to occur.

The power source to power each BRA Nacelle would be
accomplished by using theNIF facility. The NIF would power both BRA Nacelle's with the LIFE facility providing supplemental power to the BRA Nacelle's as well as the engineering section. Two seperate LIFE facilities would provide the necessary electrical energy to power the BRA grid and emitter's on the secondary hull. The secondary hull BRA power grid would be tied into the BRA Nacelle power facilities so that both systems could be used in an emergency situation to provide power to the BRA emitter's for the secondary hull or for the BRA Nacelle's.

The Primary Hull would have two LIFE facilities to provide the necessary electrical power for the Primary Hull BRA emitter network as well as providing electrical power for the ships system's.

Once the BRA has been turned on the Tziobousy Field Affect or TFA would create a field that would create a smooth flow of hydrogen atom's around the ship allowing the ship to cross the barrier into superluminal speeds due to the reduced amount of resistance created upon the ship as the ship accelerated to a faster rate of velocity that would otherwise slow the ship down to less then superluminal velocities.

Another engine that I like is the DS4G

lanceromega

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POSTS: 3859

Report this Oct. 12 2009, 3:53 pm

Quote (dryson @ Oct. 11 2009, 4:22 pm)
Mrs. StarBuck,
? ? ? ? ? ? ? You are among an elite group here at Star Trek .com. A group that looks for the light in what can be instead of huddling around a fire that can neither be stoked nor estinguished but only provides heat to those looking to remain in a constant state of unchanging ideas so that it is easier for them to popularize theirself from.

Although my concept engine is theoretical, the idea is based off of real world components.

The first part of the engine is the Bussard Reflector Array or BRA. The operation of the BRA is the reverse of how Bussard first theorized how his ramscoop should operate.


Quote
Due to the presence of high-energy particles throughout space, much of the interstellar hydrogen exists in an ionized state (H II regions) that can be manipulated by magnetic or electric fields.


Now since hydrogen exists in an ionized state and can be manipulated by magnetic or electric fields to draw or pull the hydrogen atoms towards the Bussard Ramjet then in all practicallity the reverse process of the Ramjet can be used to clear a path through the interstellar medium. The reason why
an unobstructed path must be cleared from the ship is easy to see. As a ship goes faster the ship occupies more space then the ship would have occupied if the ship had been traveling at a slower rate of velocity. When the ship occupies more space at a faster rate of velocity the slow moving particles that the ship had been able to easily navigate through become a wall of resistance that the ship must navigate through which will cause the the ship to use more fuel in order to continue to occupy the space ahead of the ship. Eventually the ship would reach a max speed potential because of the inability of the ship to be able to breach the build up of particles in space that create the bounding field in front of the ship. The idea behind the BRA is to create a field around the ship using the reverse process of how the Bussard Ramjet operates, instead of pulling hydrogen atoms towards the collector the array would attenuate it's field around the ship so that the magnetic and electrical fields would interact with the hydrogen in an ionized state so that when the hydrogen is manipulated, the hydrogen would be forced around the ship as a eliptical stone causes the water to flow around the stone in a smooth transition from the bow of the ship to the aft of the ship.

The BRA's would be placed around the ship in such a way that the emitters would each produce a field of coverage that would make up the the complete field.

There would be two BRA Nacelle's that would create the field along the longitude section of the ship, the forward section of each nacelle would be responsible for creating a field between the distance from the northern most circumferance or hemisphere of the emitter to the western and eastern hemispheres of the emitter to the area of circumferenace on the primary hull where a line that is tangent from the forward BRA emitter of the nacelle to the outside circumferance on the primary hull and a tangent line from the forward BRA emitter to the southern hemisphere of the primary hull. The field emitted in this area will keep the hydrogen atoms from building up causing a drag potential to occur that would cause stress upon the ship that would other wise possibly cause internal structural failure to occur.

The power source to power each BRA Nacelle would be
accomplished by using theNIF facility. The NIF would power both BRA Nacelle's with the LIFE facility providing supplemental power to the BRA Nacelle's as well as the engineering section. Two seperate LIFE facilities would provide the necessary electrical energy to power the BRA grid and emitter's on the secondary hull. The secondary hull BRA power grid would be tied into the BRA Nacelle power facilities so that both systems could be used in an emergency situation to provide power to the BRA emitter's for the secondary hull or for the BRA Nacelle's.

The Primary Hull would have two LIFE facilities to provide the necessary electrical power for the Primary Hull BRA emitter network as well as providing electrical power for the ships system's.

Once the BRA has been turned on the Tziobousy Field Affect or TFA would create a field that would create a smooth flow of hydrogen atom's around the ship allowing the ship to cross the barrier into superluminal speeds due to the reduced amount of resistance created upon the ship as the ship accelerated to a faster rate of velocity that would otherwise slow the ship down to less then superluminal velocities.

Another engine that I like is the DS4G

Love the way you post links with no idea what the heck they are about :laugh: ?:laugh:

If Dr Bussard ?was alive i am should that he would sue you for stealing his idea and i can only picture that he right now rolling around in his grave.

At best the Bussard ram scoop would give you a max Velocity of around 20 to 50 PSL due to the fairly low density of hydrogen thru out space. But the main issue is that it may not even work.
Since the time of Bussard's original proposal, it has been discovered that the region surrounding the sun has a much lower density of interstellar hydrogen than was believed at that time. (c.f. Local Interstellar Cloud.) T.A.Heppenheimer analysed Bussard's original suggestion of fusing protons, but found the bremsstrahlung losses from compressing protons to fusion densities was greater than the power that could be produced by a factor of about 1 billion, thus indicating that version of the Bussard ramjet was infeasible. However Daniel P. Whitmire's 1975 analysis ¿indicates that a ramjet may achieve net power via the CNO cycle, which produces fusion at a much higher rate (~10 ^16 times higher) than the proton-proton chain.

Robert Zubrin and Dana Andrews analyzed one hypothetical version of the Bussard ramscoop and ramjet design in 1985. They determined that their version of the ramjet would be unable to accelerate into the solar wind. However, in their calculations they assumed that:

The exhaust velocity of their interplanetary ion propulsion ramjet could not exceed 100,000 m/s (100 km/s);
The largest available energy source could be a 500 kilowatt nuclear fission reactor.
In the Zubrin/Andrews interplanetary ramjet design, they calculated that the drag force d/dt(mv1) equals the mass of the scooped ions collected per second multiplied by the velocity of the scooped ions within the solar system relative to the ramscoop. The velocity of the (scooped) collected ions from the solar wind was assumed to be 500,000 m/s.

The exhaust velocity of the ions when expelled by the ramjet was assumed not to exceed 100,000 m/s. The thrust of the ramjet d/dt(mv2) was equal to the mass of ions expelled per second multiplied by 100,000 meters per second. In the Zubrin/Andrews design of 1985, this resulted in the condition that d/dt(mv1) > d/dt(mv2). This condition resulted in the drag force exceeding the thrust of the hypothetical ramjet in the Zubrin/Andrews version of the design.


Check out http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/I/interstellar_ramjet.html

He explains the concept of Bussard Ram drive and some workable modification.

As for the Tziobousy Field Affect, the link leads us to home page of http://www.interstellarjourney.com, where i cannot find any mention of it. If you can bother to explain or list the correct link, it would make it easier to rip to pieces what ever wanky idea you have come up with...

This way we can all put our time to better use, checking out something worth while ...

:laugh:

lanceromega

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Report this Oct. 12 2009, 4:49 pm

Quote (trekbuff @ Oct. 11 2009, 5:19 pm)
Plasma fusion has my vote. With only a small amount of matter, great energy may be released. There is actually much research on the subject. Optimism only allows folks at M.I.T. the following speculation:
Quote
Research carried out at MIT's Alcator C-Mod fusion reactor may have brought the promise of fusion as a future power source a bit closer to reality, though scientists caution that a practical fusion powerplant is still decades away.

Using plasma as a power source tied directly to propulsion could be much more feasable than ion drive for pushing larger masses at greater speeds with greater rates of acceleration.

The problem with any exotic/future propulsion system is half the time would be spent accelerating and the other half decelerating.

basically this is a fusion rocket...

Fusion rocket will basically open up the solar system for us, but for instellar transport, only some kind of FTL will really make it worth while for human exploration.

Varies Warp drives are the hope at this point for star to star travel.

Outside hope is the Heims Drive, which is based on non standard physics but allows for FTL travel.

But there is still alot we don't know on the nature of space and time, while General relativity give us some clues on breaking the Speed of light barrier, a better understanding of Structure of space and time on a quantum scale may show us how to create wormhole short cut thru space on demand.

A theory of Quantum Gravity is first a must for potential new FTL drive, while STL drives are pretty much cover under antimatter engines, fusion and fission rockets, Solar or magnetic sails.

While STL method may allow us to reach the closest stars, these trip will pretty much be one way voyages for the crew.

dryson

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POSTS: 749

Report this Oct. 12 2009, 5:21 pm

So I guess everyone here at StarTrek.com should give way to what Lancer Omega wants to talk about? I guess the Universe functions that way Lacner Omega want's it too so Lancer Omega can try and make his hereos think that he is like them so he can gain some sort of affectionate bond with them?

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.?

John Dewey

An audacity Lancer Omega that you can only wish and dream of having.

The question remains Lancer Omega where do you get your bits and pieces of information from to complete your thoughts, which I am quite certain your thoughts are jsut a cut and past reality and have not been formed from your onw intelligence.

GrandLunar2007

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Report this Oct. 12 2009, 10:22 pm

Quote (trekbuff @ Oct. 12 2009, 4:19 pm)
Plasma fusion has my vote. With only a small amount of matter, great energy may be released. There is actually much research on the subject. Optimism only allows folks at M.I.T. the following speculation:
Quote
Research carried out at MIT's Alcator C-Mod fusion reactor may have brought the promise of fusion as a future power source a bit closer to reality, though scientists caution that a practical fusion powerplant is still decades away.

Using plasma as a power source tied directly to propulsion could be much more feasable than ion drive for pushing larger masses at greater speeds with greater rates of acceleration.

The problem with any exotic/future propulsion system is half the time would be spent accelerating and the other half decelerating.

I'm not familar with the term "plasma fusion".

Based on what's know about fusion reactions, you get plasma anyway.

Plasma really isn't an energy source, since you need something to heat up the gases anyway to make it.

But it is being toward as a propulsion method, though.
I believe the VASMIR is one such design.

Could be something like what you propose, though plasma drive is typically meant for trips in the solar system.

GrandLunar2007

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POSTS: 1092

Report this Oct. 12 2009, 10:24 pm

Quote
Fusion rocket will basically open up the solar system for us, but for instellar transport, only some kind of FTL will really make it worth while for human exploration.


It really depends on what you're goal is.

Mainly, if we're going to the stars, it'll be for colonization purposes.

Even at sub-light speeds with fusion drives, we can still make trips to the stars. The closest stars can be reached in decades.
Generation ships would be the most likely means.

I can imagine sleeper ships being used as well.

4_of_20

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Report this Oct. 13 2009, 2:05 am

I was always a Ramscoop fan, but in recent years I have heard too many drawbacks. We'll probably go rocket based; nuclear, chemical, matter-antimatter. Although the particle accelerator powerwed "hyperdrive" in lancer's thread is exciting, and in early experimental stages it seems.

But I'm an Alcubierre fan. Give me drawbacks by the numbers, I don't care, I love it. It's come so far on paper since it's introduction in 1993, and the energy requirement has dropped from "more energy than the universe" to "the mass of Jupiter." Give it another couple thousand years and I think you'll have yourself a working warp drive.

MrsStarbuck

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Report this Oct. 13 2009, 5:31 am

Thanks for all the responses everyone. They're all possibilities I'd like to read about further.

Quote (lanceromega @ Oct. 11 2009, 10:49 pm)
Fusion rocket will basically open up the solar system for us, but for instellar transport, only some kind of FTL will really make it worth while for human exploration.


Quote (GrandLunar2007 @ Oct. 12 2009, 4:24 am)
It really depends on what you're goal is.

Mainly, if we're going to the stars, it'll be for colonization purposes.

Even at sub-light speeds with fusion drives, we can still make trips to the stars. The closest stars can be reached in decades.
Generation ships would be the most likely means.

I can imagine sleeper ships being used as well.


Maybe it would have helped if I'd said what I wanted this information for. It's for a fictional concept I'm working on, where it will be the early days of space exploration, which is why I want the propulsion system to be at least grounded in current physics, even if we have to make some fictitious leaps to connect all the dots.

For me, the voyage will be half the story, so I don't mind if it's a method that will take a long time to get where they're going.

Quote (4_of_20 @ Oct. 12 2009, 8:05 am)
But I'm an Alcubierre fan. Give me drawbacks by the numbers, I don't care, I love it. It's come so far on paper since it's introduction in 1993, and the energy requirement has dropped from "more energy than the universe" to "the mass of Jupiter." Give it another couple thousand years and I think you'll have yourself a working warp drive.


I love Alcubierre too, but for my purposes, it's just a bit too close to Star Trek. I wanted something different.

I have to say, from a fiction point of view, I'm still intrigued by dark matter propulsion, but as Lanceromega pointed out, there's a big issue with containment...which is something I'll have to put a lot more thought into.

But please all keep throwing ideas and suggestions out, it's all fascinating to read about.

4_of_20

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POSTS: 1052

Report this Oct. 13 2009, 6:27 am

We're talking fiction? Possibilities are endless...

Take your own wormhole with you
Dense rotating rings around the craft like cosmic strings
Krasinkov tube
Vacuum energy suppression field (increasing c locally)
Widening the gaps of extra dimensions and taking a hyper-route
Superbradyon field
Tachyons... in some way or another.

Science allows us all types of crazy ways to zip around the universe in our stories!!

MrsStarbuck

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Report this Oct. 13 2009, 7:09 am

ha ha...well, fiction that's as realistic as possible...if that's not a contradiction in terms ;)

Vice_Adm_Baxter

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Report this Oct. 13 2009, 5:40 pm

Here is MIT's excellent plasma fusion site:

Plasma Fusion Research website for MIT

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