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2022-02-22 10:10:05 Mars
New engine proposed for super-fast mission to Mars

Canada has designed a powerful ground-based laser to accelerate spacecraft to Mars.

Scientists at McGill University in Canada have proposed a design for a new laser-thermal propulsion system that would shorten the spacecraft's journey to Mars to 45 days, compared with six months of flight time for chemically powered spacecraft. The concept, described in the journal Acta Astronautica, suggests that an array of lasers installed on Earth would heat hydrogen plasma in a chamber at the back of the interplanetary spacecraft and create thrust from hydrogen gas emissions.

According to the engineers' idea, a phased array of infrared lasers with a total diameter of ten meters and a power of 100 megawatts can feed a directional beam to a spacecraft near the moon. The beam will be focused in a heating chamber by an inflatable reflector that is in elliptical orbit around the Earth. Heated to 10,000 kelvin, hydrogen fuel is ejected through a nozzle, allowing the craft to achieve a specific momentum of 3,000 seconds (which is how long an engine will run on one kilogram of fuel, creating one newton of thrust). By comparison, the specific impulse of liquid rocket engines reaches only about 470 seconds.


Author: lenta




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