Nuclear Propulsion Through Direct Conversion of Fusion Energy
The future of manned space exploration and development of space depends critically on the creation of a vastly more efficient propulsion architecture for in-space transportation. Nuclear-powered rockets can provide the large energy density gain required. A small scale, low cost path to fusion-based propulsion is to be investigated. It is accomplished by employing the propellant to compress and heat a magnetized plasma to fusion conditions, and thereby channel the fusion energy released into heating only the propellant. Passage of the hot propellant through a magnetic nozzle rapidly converts this thermal energy into both directed (propulsive) energy and electrical energy.