Record Details

Antiproton powered propulsion with magnetically confined plasma engines
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Author and Affiliation:
Lapointe, Michael R.(Sverdrup Technology, Inc., Cleveland, OH, United States)
Abstract: Matter-antimatter annihilation releases more energy per unit mass than any other method of energy production, making it an attractive energy source for spacecraft propulsion. In the magnetically confined plasma engine, antiproton beams are injected axially into a pulsed magnetic mirror system, where they annihilate with an initially neutral hydrogen gas. The resulting charged annihilation products transfer energy to the hydrogen propellant, which is then exhausted through one end of the pulsed mirror system to provide thrust. The calculated energy transfer efficiencies for a low number density (10(14)/cu cm) hydrogen propellant are insufficient to warrant operating the engine in this mode. Efficiencies are improved using moderate propellant number densities (10(16)/cu cm), but the energy transferred to the plasma in a realistic magnetic mirror system is generally limited to less than 2 percent of the initial proton-antiproton annihilation energy. The energy transfer efficiencies are highest for high number density (10(18)/cu cm) propellants, but plasma temperatures are reduced by excessive radiation losses. Low to moderate thrust over a wide range of specific impulse can be generated with moderate propellant number densities, while higher thrust but lower specific impulse may be generated using high propellant number densities. Significant mass will be required to shield the superconducting magnet coils from the high energy gamma radiation emitted by neutral pion decay. The mass of such a radiation shield may dominate the total engine mass, and could severely diminish the performance of antiproton powered engines which utilize magnetic confinement. The problem is compounded in the antiproton powered plasma engine, where lower energy plasma bremsstrahlung radiation may cause shield surface ablation and degradation.
Publication Date: Aug 01, 1989
Document ID:
19890018329
(Acquired Nov 06, 1995)
Accession Number: 89N27700
Subject Category: SPACECRAFT PROPULSION AND POWER
Report/Patent Number: NASA-CR-185131, E-5025, NAS 1.26:185131, AIAA PAPER 89-2334
Coverage: Final Report
Document Type: Conference Paper
Publisher Information: United States
Meeting Information: Joint Propulsion Conference; 25th; 10-12 Jul. 1989; Monterey, CA; United States
Meeting Sponsor: AIAA;
ASME;
SAE;
ASEE
Contract/Grant/Task Num: NAS3-25266; RTOP 506-42-41
Financial Sponsor: NASA; United States
Organization Source: Sverdrup Technology, Inc.; Cleveland, OH, United States
Description: 26p; In English
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: No Copyright
NASA Terms: ANNIHILATION REACTIONS; ANTIPROTONS; HYDROGEN FUELS; HYDROGEN PLASMA; MATTER-ANTIMATTER PROPULSION; PLASMA CONTROL; PLASMA ENGINES; PLASMA PROPULSION; PROPULSIVE EFFICIENCY; PULSED JET ENGINES; BREMSSTRAHLUNG; ENERGY TRANSFER; MONTE CARLO METHOD; MUONS; PARTICLE DECAY; PIONS; PLASMA DENSITY; PLASMA HEATING; SIMULATION; SPECIFIC IMPULSE; THRUST
Imprint And Other Notes: Presented at the 25th Joint Propulsion Conference, Monterey, CA, 10-12 Jul. 1989; cosponsored by the AIAA, ASME, SAE, and ASEE
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