March 13, 2006

British Rail's fusion flying saucer

There is an interesting idea that has come to surface in several new outlets (such as The Register) about a proposal for a Nuclear powered spacecraft designed by somebody at British Rail. From the proposal it is rather similar in concept to Orion, that is a series of small nuclear explosions are triggered beneath the craft to propel it upwards. In Orion (or with pictures here) the huge mass of the craft and a large shock absorption system was used to cushion the shocks that this would entail. This device seems to be proposing much smaller explosions so that less mass and shock absorption would be needed.

The Telegraph also covers it, unfortunately they get things rather badly wrong since they claim:
The patent describes how the ship would have been fired by a controlled thermonuclear fusion reaction ignited by laser beams, but experts have rubbished the idea, saying that this bizarre fusion process does not exist.
I don't know which 'experts' they consulted by whomever they where there where not expert enough. This form of Fusion is known as Inertial Confinement, it can use either a set of very powerful lasers or particle beams. Like all known methods of fusion the current systems do not produce more energy than they consume. But devices have been built, such as the Shiva system in the USA from the 1970's, and they certainly do produce some Fusion.


Post a Comment

<< Home