Fission, Fusion, and Antimatter. Don’t judge them by their size.
Fusion, Fission, and Antimatter engines would completely revolutionize space travel. Many are working on how to make a slightly better fuel source, or a extra light rocket fuel but don’t be fooled, these “innovations” (notice the quotes) make little change though they may seem very big. Nuclear power is the real answer. It’s Ironic really how such a little thing can make a big difference. Fusion and fission can make interplanetary travel a piece of cake it provides 3 main benifits and many smaller ones:
- Creation of faster, lighter and stronger rockets. This is because we don’t need to carry gallons upon gallons of fuel and only to have the nuclear engine.
- easy access to other planets. With superior rockets we can get to the outer solar system in a reasonable time not 30+ years.
- Cheaper space travel. Because there is no more fuel cycle (check out The prison of earth #1 for more) A lot of fuel is saved and space travel will be more accessible.
Fusion and fission create energy by destroying a very very small fraction of the atom (I mean like very small fraction) and turning it into energy by fusing or fissing (is that a word) the atoms. Einstein's famous equation E=mc² (energy=mass x speed of light ²) explains this. These engines would make Rockets powered by chemical reactions obsolete.
Now before you start tweeting away on how you got a great business idea, or runoff and create a startup lets review the obstacles:
- how will we make these reactions. Fusion and fission are both still pretty new. They must still be developed and optimized (especially fusion energy).
- How will we direct the explosion. Sure we make a big boom… then what, we must direct the energy otherwise we might as well be detonating our astronauts (not cool… Armstrong says he’d rather stay in one piece)
- How do we contain nuclear waste. Ya duh I don’t want radioactive waste and gamma particles giving me cancer… I don’t think Armstrong will appreciate that either.
Antimatter is a completely different matter. ha ha… matter, get it. its not matter its antimatter… hilaryous, OK I’m getting overboard, back to business. Antimatter is still uses E=mc² but is exponentially stronger than fusion and fission and completely out of the league of chemical reactions (I still can’t believe we use those). Antimatter has similar benefits and barriers to other nuclear energies but is on a whole other level of risks and rewards. It’s benefits are:
- Creation of exponentially faster and stronger rockets. Antimatter annihilates normal matter on contact meaning that both atoms change into pure energy instead of a small percentage of a atom
- unlocking the power of interstellar travel. Antimatter rockets are the best chance we have at interstellar travel as one can move at 10% of the speed of light!
- Interplanetary travel will be a joke. the outer solar system will be only months away not decades.
- Cheaper space travel. Similar to other nuclear engines antimatter engines will not only stop the fuel cycle but also have a higher energy density (amount of energy in a spot) than normal
- Bigger payloads will be possible. This is true with all nuclear engines. Current rocket systems have a payload limit. if the payload is more then we can’t lift off no matter how much fuel we use!
Antimatter is the real deal, if we create an antimatter engine we will witness of a huge jump in the space industry. Antimatter is the exact opposite of normal matter. It has a negatively charged proton (called a anti-proton) and a positively charged (called a positron) when brought close to normal matter they annihilate (similar to how one annihilate double dip donuts) and all the matter is changed into pure energy (or in our case fat 😉).
Making antimatter engines will be easy… said no one ever (not even trump will say such a straight out lie… I think… never mind he would). Ya there are some major obstacles:
- How will we contain it? If antimatter goes boom on contact to 99.999% of our universe how will we keep it until we release its energy.
- How will we create it? currently there are multiple ways of creating antimatter but most are very expensive.
- How can we direct it? Antimatter releases huge amounts of energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation (a nerdy way of saying light). It will be hard to direct the energy, especially the gamma rays, produced.
Even though there are so many obstacles many companies (like positron dynamics) are working on this and lots of brain power is going into it. Estimate show that this technology will be made in the near future (I hope that means in my lifetime…) maybe one of the people reading this story will be flying in the first interstellar mission. If you are be sure to send me a selfie with the rocket…