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Antimatter Requirements and Energy Costs for Near-Term Propulsion ApplicationsThe superior energy density of antimatter annihilation has often been pointed to as the ultimate source of energy for propulsion. However, the limited capacity and very low efficiency of present-day antiproton production methods suggest that antimatter may be too costly to consider for near-term propulsion applications. We address this issue by assessing the antimatter requirements for six different types of propulsion concepts, including two in which antiprotons are used to drive energy release from combined fission/fusion. These requirements are compared against the capacity of both the current antimatter production infrastructure and the improved capabilities that could exist within the early part of next century. Results show that although it may be impractical to consider systems that rely on antimatter as the sole source of propulsive energy, the requirements for propulsion based on antimatter-assisted fission/fusion do fall within projected near-term production capabilities. In fact, a new facility designed solely for antiproton production but based on existing technology could feasibly support interstellar precursor missions and omniplanetary spaceflight with antimatter costs ranging up to $6.4 million per mission.
Document ID
19990110316
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Schmidt, G. R. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Gerrish, H. P. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Martin, J. J. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Smith, G. A. (Pennsylvania State Univ. University Park, PA United States)
Meyer, K. J. (Pennsylvania State Univ. University Park, PA United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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