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Radioisotope Positron PropulsionProducing antimatter is straight forward, but antimatter trapping is challenging. Our concept uses a radioisotope to generate antimatter via beta-decay. These antimatter particles are collected, and their density tailored to generate fusion reactions which provides high performance thrust. The neutrons produced in the fusion reaction are used to generate more radioisotope via neutron capture. This constitutes the first dosed-closed cycle antimatter rocket engine of its kind.Why Positrons? The positron, or anti-electron, is the antimatter counterpart of the electron. It has the same mass as an electron but opposite charge. Positrons are produced by several readily available radioisotopes (e.g. Na-22, Co-58, Kr-79) in large number and with a broad energy spread. By creating long-lived radioisotopes that emit positrons, we can essentially 'store' the positrons in the nuclei of the radioisotope, eliminating the need for high magnetic field storage techniques. In light of these high delta-V mission opportunities and Positron Dynamics' technology developments, we propose a means of antimatter-based propulsion that does not require gamma ray reflection, long-term storage of antiprotons or positrons, and can be integrated into a medium sized (< 1000kg) spacecraft. In this Phase I effort, we have analyzed the feasibility of this radioisotope positron propulsion (RPP) concept. In addition, we have applied the concept to a specific mission, the capture/redirect of asteroid 2009BD, comparing the performance of RPP with the original electric propulsion ARM concept.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Contractor or Grantee Report
Weed, Ryan W.
(POSITRON DYNAMICS Livermore, CA, United States)
Machacek, Joshua
(POSITRON DYNAMICS Livermore, CA, United States)
Ramamurthy, Balachandar
(POSITRON DYNAMICS Livermore, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
May 10, 2019
Publication Date
January 1, 2019
Subject Category
Physics Of Elementary Particles And Fields
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Portions of document may include copyright protected material.
Technical Review
NASA Technical Management
fusion reactions
rocket engine
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