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Fusion Propulsion Z-Pinch Engine ConceptFusion-based nuclear propulsion has the potential to enable fast interplanetary transportation. Due to the great distances between the planets of our solar system and the harmful radiation environment of interplanetary space, high specific impulse (Isp) propulsion in vehicles with high payload mass fractions must be developed to provide practical and safe vehicles for human spaceflight missions. The Z-Pinch dense plasma focus method is a Magneto-Inertial Fusion (MIF) approach that may potentially lead to a small, low cost fusion reactor/engine assembly1. Recent advancements in experimental and theoretical understanding of this concept suggest favorable scaling of fusion power output yield 2. The magnetic field resulting from the large current compresses the plasma to fusion conditions, and this process can be pulsed over short timescales (10(exp -6 sec). This type of plasma formation is widely used in the field of Nuclear Weapons Effects testing in the defense industry, as well as in fusion energy research. A Decade Module 2 (DM2), approx.500 KJ pulsed-power is coming to the RSA Aerophysics Lab managed by UAHuntsville in January, 2012. A Z-Pinch propulsion concept was designed for a vehicle based on a previous fusion vehicle study called "Human Outer Planet Exploration" (HOPE), which used Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) 3 propulsion. The reference mission is the transport of crew and cargo to Mars and back, with a reusable vehicle.
Document ID
20120002875
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Miernik, J. (Engineering Research and Consulting, Inc. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Statham, G. (Engineering Research and Consulting, Inc. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Fabisinski, L. (Intelligent Software Solutions Colorado Springs, CO, United States)
Maples, C. D. (Qualis Corp. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Adams, R. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Polsgrove, T. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Fincher, S. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Cassibry, J. (Alabama Univ. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Cortez, R. (Alabama Univ. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Turner, M. (Alabama Univ. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Percy, T. (Science Applications International Corp. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
December 5, 2011
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
Report/Patent Number
M11-1260
M11-1263
Meeting Information
JANNAF 5th Spacecraft Propulsion Subcommittee Meeting(Huntsville, AL)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Public Use Permitted.

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