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New Propulsion Concept Could Make 90-Day Mars Round Trip Possible

This is a discussion on New Propulsion Concept Could Make 90-Day Mars Round Trip Possible within the Space & Defense Technology forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; New Propulsion Concept Could Make 90-Day Mars Round Trip Possible Seattle WA ( SPX ) Oct 15, 2004 A new ...


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Old October 15th, 2004   #1
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New Propulsion Concept Could Make 90-Day Mars Round Trip Possible

New Propulsion Concept Could Make 90-Day Mars Round Trip Possible

Seattle WA (SPX) Oct 15, 2004


A new means of propelling spacecraft being developed at the University of Washington could dramatically cut the time needed for astronauts to travel to and from Mars, and could make humans a permanent fixture in space.
In fact, with magnetized-beam plasma propulsion, or mag-beam, quick trips to distant parts of the solar system could become routine, said Robert Winglee, a UW Earth and space sciences professor who is leading the project.

Currently, using conventional technology and adjusting for the orbits of both the Earth and Mars around the sun, it would take astronauts about 2.5 years to travel to Mars, conduct their scientific mission and return.

"We're trying to get to Mars and back in 90 days," Winglee said. "Our philosophy is that, if it's going to take two-and-a-half years, the chances of a successful mission are pretty low."

Mag-beam is one of 12 proposals that this month began receiving support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Institute for Advanced Concepts. Each gets $75,000 for a six-month study to validate the concept and identify challenges in developing it. Projects that make it through that phase are eligible for as much as $400,000 more over two years.

Under the mag-beam concept, a space-based station would generate a stream of magnetized ions that would interact with a magnetic sail on a spacecraft and propel it through the solar system at high speeds that increase with the size of the plasma beam.

Winglee estimates that a control nozzle 32 meters wide would generate a plasma beam capable of propelling a spacecraft at 11.7 kilometers per second. That translates to more than 26,000 miles an hour or more than 625,000 miles a day.

Mars is an average of 48 million miles from Earth, though the distance can vary greatly depending on where the two planets are in their orbits around the sun. At that distance, a spacecraft traveling 625,000 miles a day would take more than 76 days to get to the red planet. But Winglee is working on ways to devise even greater speeds so the round trip could be accomplished in three months.

But to make such high speeds practical, another plasma unit must be stationed on a platform at the other end of the trip to apply brakes to the spacecraft.

"Rather than a spacecraft having to carry these big powerful propulsion units, you can have much smaller payloads," he said.

Winglee envisions units being placed around the solar system by missions already planned by NASA. One could be used as an integral part of a research mission to Jupiter, for instance, and then left in orbit there when the mission is completed. Units placed farther out in the solar system would use nuclear power to create the ionized plasma; those closer to the sun would be able to use electricity generated by solar panels.

The mag-beam concept grew out of an earlier effort Winglee led to develop a system called mini-magnetospheric plasma propulsion. In that system, a plasma bubble would be created around a spacecraft and sail on the solar wind. The mag-beam concept removes reliance on the solar wind, replacing it with a plasma beam that can be controlled for strength and direction.

A mag-beam test mission could be possible within five years if financial support remains consistent, he said. The project will be among the topics during the sixth annual NASA Advanced Concepts Institute meeting Tuesday and Wednesday at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seattle. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Winglee acknowledges that it would take an initial investment of billions of dollars to place stations around the solar system. But once they are in place, their power sources should allow them to generate plasma indefinitely.

The system ultimately would reduce spacecraft costs, since individual craft would no longer have to carry their own propulsion systems. They would get up to speed quickly with a strong push from a plasma station, then coast at high speed until they reach their destination, where they would be slowed by another plasma station.

"This would facilitate a permanent human presence in space," Winglee said. "That's what we are trying to get to."

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/rocketscience-04zh.html

I have read somewhere that the technical name given to this concept is magnetohydrodynamics, and the gist of this process involves macroscopic interaction between electrically conducting fluids with a magnetic field
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Old October 15th, 2004   #2
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weren't they planning to build large sails that would utilise the ion winds from the sun?
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Old October 15th, 2004   #3
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thats one of the ideas they wanted to place a nuclear reactor in the middle-of the solar Sail to propel the vessel at amazing speeds!
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Old October 15th, 2004   #4
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Nothing wrong with that, if it could fit in a sub why not in a spaceship.................
They might need to master fusion energy to do that.......
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Old October 15th, 2004   #5
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Re: New Propulsion Concept Could Make 90-Day Mars Round Trip Possible

americans are pretty slow in space tech compared to other tech thatthey are really good at
i not saying theysuck
im sayignthey dont fund it as much as they used to
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Old October 15th, 2004   #6
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that's true now all the $$ are going to Iraq, Afghanistan, and probably military.
O by the way who do you think is gonna launch a man into space next?
India, Japan, Euro?
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Old October 15th, 2004   #7
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Re: New Propulsion Concept Could Make 90-Day Mars Round Trip Possible

japan and euro have capabiltiy but no wil , so does india but that will mroe likely change asits growin economy allows expansion of budget
i mean the americans spend 500 mil on one space launch
at the sane time whole indian budget is that
american whole budget is over 10 billion see the difference
but teh indian if they had that budget imagien the possibilities
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Old October 15th, 2004   #8
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It does cost $10,000 to put 1 pound in space.
So an average astournaut might cost ~$17000000-$20000000
The extra 10 million is trainning.......
I think, I suck at the subject of space..............
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Old October 15th, 2004   #9
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Re: New Propulsion Concept Could Make 90-Day Mars Round Trip Possible

lol u also have to count teh astronauts food and food distribution equipment, waste management facilities , his oxygen and other equipment
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Old October 15th, 2004   #10
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I much rather use the $ for something else.............
ETC Budgt in military, Education, or Proverty (if the country has it)
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Old October 15th, 2004   #11
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Re: New Propulsion Concept Could Make 90-Day Mars Round Trip Possible

india can simply improve education by increasing number of schools, courses, teachers and enriching current courses
i mean their population is capable of becoming a tech power
"capable"

poverty will slowly go away
sadly many indian politicians ignore this issure rather than try to solve it, this can be done by increasing taxes on welathier fmailies and using revanue to fund miore education, health and housing thatwill in turn break teh poverty cycle
all three : health, pverty, and education are closely related
india can crack 3 coconuts with 1 stone if they take the intiiative
now back tothe topic at han :new propulsion
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Old October 16th, 2004   #12
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what about tethers?
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Old October 16th, 2004   #13
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another story regarding longer stay in space

Mars astronauts 'will hibernate for 50 million-mile journey in space'
By Karyn Miller, 08/08/2004

It was once the preserve of science fiction books and films such as 2001: a Space Odyssey and Alien, but scientists now believe that they will be able to develop ways of sending people on long space journeys in hibernation.

The European Space Agency is funding research into what has become the holy grail of space travel - a method that will allow astronauts to spend months or years in suspended animation.

Scientists at the agency hope to create a hibernation system in time for a planned manned mission to Mars in 2033.

They are drawing up plans for "sleep pods" that, according Mark Ayre, a research fellow for the agency's Advanced Concepts Team, resemble the pods in Alien and will be part of the astronauts' bedrooms.

Getting to Mars is the space industry's big challenge. Earlier this year, President George W Bush announced that a manned mission to the red planet was part of his plan for a "new course for America's space programme".

Michael Foale, the British-born astronaut, has described a manned mission to Mars as the "end-game" of spaceflight, saying: "We want to find a way to live there in fairly large numbers."

The logistics of such a trip are daunting. Mars is 50 million miles from Earth. Space engineers hope to refine new methods of propulsion, such as engines powered by solar energy, to speed up flights.

However, even with this envisaged technology, a journey to Mars is expected to take six to nine months.

If a manned mission to Mars were successful, it could pave the way to more distant planets, such as Saturn.

The giants of the outer solar system are made of gas, but it might be possible to land on their moons. However, it could take up to 10 years to get there.

The scientists believe that it is unrealistic to expect astronauts to live for years in the cramped confines of a spacecraft, and that hibernation would ease the psychological demands on them.

There are logistical considerations, too. ESA scientists have calculated that 30 tons of food would be needed to supply six astronauts on a two-year mission.

Dormant astronauts would require less food and create less waste. As a result, the craft would be lighter and would require less fuel.

Finding a way to put, and keep, the astronauts into a state of hibernation is the key. The researchers are focusing on a synthetic, opioid-like compound called Dadle, or Ala-(D) Leuenkephalin, which, when injected into squirrels, can put them in a state of hibernation during the summer.

Dr Ayre's team is testing Dadle in rats, to discover if it has a similar effect in non-hibernating animals. They have already established that when Dadle is applied to cultures of human cells, the cells divide more slowly.

The scientists are also investigating compounds that would maintain the astronauts' physical health during prolonged periods of physical inactivity.

They also want to evaluate dobutamine, which is administered to bedridden patients to strengthen their heart muscles, and hormonal compounds such as insulin-like growth factor, which could boost astronauts' immune systems. Electrical stimulation could also be used to prevent bedsores.

Dr Ayre emphasised that the research was at an early stage and that he hoped that future advances in medical technology would help the process. "We are still a long way from testing any ideas on humans," he said.

Work on hibernation technology is also going in America, where the Pentagon has been looking at its possibilities in the treatment of wounded soldiers. Nasa, however, is not understood to be investing much in the idea.

Some scientists believe that hibernation may never be suitable for humans. Neil Stanley, the director of Sleep Research at the University of Surrey, said that it could "torture" the mind.

"I'm sure it would be possible to put the body to sleep, but the mind is something else. Nobody has managed to put the mind to sleep yet. When you are asleep, dreams are your reality. If you were asleep for six months, dreams would become your memories.

"Waking up would be a great shock to the system. The human perception of time is ingrained. How do you deal with missing six months of your life?"

Gerhard Thiele, the head of the ESA's Astronauts and Operations Unit who travelled into space in 2000, said that he would not want to sleep through a space journey.

"Hibernation would be suitable for longer missions, such as interstellar travel, but such journeys will not be taken for hundreds of years. For shorter missions, such as one to Mars, I would prefer to be awake.

"I would want to see the Earth getting smaller, and Mars getting bigger. It would be a trip to enjoy."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...08/ixhome.html

what i dont understand is does your bilogical clock continue or does it slow down, or even better does it suspend
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