What is a plasma rocket and why can we travel interplanetary to it?

What is the technology that helps people travel the Solar System and, more broadly, travel to the outer border of the Universe?

Relatives of "rocket" houses also have many brothers

The rocket is very different from the way other things move, because the whole system helps a moving missile to lie completely within it.

Picture 1 of What is a plasma rocket and why can we travel interplanetary to it?
Missiles use energy from a chemical reaction to burn fuel to provide heat, pushing air out behind the engine.

For example, an athlete uses their feet to kick the solid ground to launch forward; a car uses asphalt to move forward, through friction between the wheel and the road surface.

As for rockets, they use energy from a chemical reaction that burns fuel to provide heat, pushing air out behind the engine. A rocket moves by pushing its entire mass in the opposite direction, a missile does not need to rely on anything to push in, a system to pull up.

Rockets are not simply "push" like that, there are many other boosters. The most common and most widely known type is the type of chemical propellant used to create a combustion reaction in the exhaust pipe, forcing the fuel block to be pushed down and causing the rocket to fly up. The missions of NASA Space Shuttle and Saturn missiles all use boosters with such chemical combustion systems.

But next to the fuel rocket, we still have two more types of missiles, which are nuclear heat and rocket rockets. Nuclear thermal rockets, true to their names, use heat from nuclear fission, impacting fuel and creating repulsive force. The same goes for electric fire, using electrical energy to impact burning fuel, pushing them away from the rocket's tail and creating thrust.

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NASA electric motor.

In electric rockets, the rate of burning fuel is much stronger, so the rocket is more efficient but its level of push is much lower, however, so it is difficult to apply this technology in the porcelain Destiny flying in space. We need an electric rocket to fill that defect.

From that demand, plasma propulsion engines were born. It is a type of electric propulsion, which generates thrust from a near-neutral plasma. This technology is in contrast to ion engines - a type of motor that generates thrust from extracting ionic currents from a plasma source. ( Near-neutral - Quasi-neutral describes the apparent neutral charge state of the whole plasma, with a small scale, positive and negative charges that make up the plasma that will be able to create regions of charge and those Because the electrons are very mobile, the plasma becomes an efficient conductor of matter, any charge generated is already in a neutral state, and in many cases, the plasma can be considered as a medium. charge for electricity).

Plasma propulsion motors often do not use a high voltage network or cathode / anode to excite charged particles within the plasma, which often use the current and voltage generated right inside the plasma to ignite Prefer active plasma ions.

Although this method gives us a smaller discharge speed with high voltage usage, it has certain benefits.

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The 13 kW Hall model is tested at the Glenn Research Center, located in Cleveland.

Without high voltage, ion corrosion will not occur. The plasma released behind the missile is a near-neutral plasma (the plasma has an equal number of ions and electrons), allowing the combination of ions and electrons to neutralize the gas emissions in excess. This launch makes the electric rocket unnecessary to install an electron gun system (an empty cathode: usually a glass tube consisting of an anode, an cathode and a cushion gas - usually a type of gas ; when a large amount of potential runs through the anode and cathode, the amount of buffer gas will be ionized, producing plasma.

This type of rocket usually produces a source plasma with a radio frequency or microwaves through an external antenna system. This, combined with the absence of an empty cathode, will cause electric rockets to work with more rare gases.

Essentially, plasma engines will be a better choice for interplanetary astronaut missions.

VASIMR engine - a joint research project with NASA by 60-year-old astronaut

This engine is an electric propulsion system that has many unique advantages. In VASIMR engines, rare gases such as argon, xenon or hydrogen are fed into a large tube surrounded by superconducting magnets and a radio coupling system. These connectors turn cold gas into extremely hot plasma, the rocket's magnetic exhaust will transform the plasma heat into a direct thrust.

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Mr. Franklin Chang-Díaz and his plasma rocket system.

The main purpose of a radio frequency coupler is to convert gas into plasma by ionizing it - knocking an electron off each gas atom. It is known as helicon and helicon connectors as a method commonly used to create plasma.

After passing through the helicon region, the gas turns into a "cold plasma" (called cold but in fact, its temperature is greater than the surface temperature of the Sun). Plasma is then a mixture of electrons and ions. These electrons and ions carry electrical charge and are contained in a magnetic field that wraps the core of the rocket from the extremely hot plasma.

Picture 5 of What is a plasma rocket and why can we travel interplanetary to it?

The second connector is in the ICH area - the ion burning area is accelerated. ICH is a technique used to heat plasma so that they can reach the temperature of the Sun core (about 10 million degrees K). ICH waves push the ions around the magnetic field, creating a push motion and a higher reaction temperature.

The thermal motion of the ion around the magnetic field is usually perpendicular to the direction the missile will move, so they must be "bent" in order to create thrust. To do that, missiles use magnetic exhaust pipes to redirect the orbital motion of the ion into a directional momentum, forming a repulsive force. The speed of the ion at that time reached 180,000 km / h.


In the future, it is likely that ion engines and plasma engines will play an important role in astronaut missions, but they will not be a complete replacement for the current missile system for Interplanetary trips.

Ion propulsion engines have been in use since the 1950s and gradually become more popular thanks to the large amount of thrust they provide. However, overall, the repulsive force is not particularly high.

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Plasma engines will shorten the time of space travel.

Plasma engines also use the same idea as an ion engine (creating more repulsive force, using less fuel by releasing plasma at high speed) but these plasma motors are more available where they are. can provide long-term thrust for journeys to more remote destinations.

Mr. Hardwick said that plasma engines will shorten the time of space travel, such as from Earth to Mars, for example, but only if we can increase the scale of the missile system. Plasma missiles, to be able to operate efficiently, will require a large amount of energy. A solar system or a nuclear reactor on a rocket will solve that energy problem, allowing plasma motors to fly to farther horizons.

Plasma missiles probably won't replace the current fuel-fired missile system as a way to propel the spacecraft into space, but we can expect a plasma system to be used to give names. fire surf in the universe.

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