Military Review

MagBeam: plasma sell


"People can get to Mars and go back in just 90 days," scientists at the University of Washington made such a sensational statement.

Original sensation (click):
90-day Mars round trip possible.

The land is rich in American geniuses. NASA has shown considerable interest (click).
Beam Me to Mars

Ilon Musk, in distant 2005, gnashing his teeth with excellent Anglo-Saxon teeth, decided to quit PayPal and Tesla Motors and urgently spur SpaceX (80 days against university 90, but more expensive).
We disassemble the interplanetary transport system (ITS) for parts from Ilona Mask

The main author of the project is Robert Winglee, a professor at the University of Washington.

University of Washington -Home Page

What a miracle way? Let's try to "disassemble it for parts."
The concept of the ship's drive is called MagBeam - aka “Magnetized Beamed Plasma Propulsion). It is easier to show than to explain, therefore, the video (a total of 26 seconds, "do not switch"):

For more advanced readers, I downloaded the document (in English) on the google-disk (click):
Final Report. For the Phase I study of Magnetized Beamed Plasma Propulsion (MagBeam) Supported by NASA.

Electromagnetic rocket drive is one of the most promising areas for the development of space technology, says Vingley, but it requires a powerful source of energy on the ship.

And this is a problem. A big problem. About her a little lower. According to various projects of the flight of people to Mars, the main drive of a manned spacecraft will be exactly the ionic electromagnetic. It differs from chemical colossal economy in terms of consumption (and, of course, the stock on board) of the working fluid — argon or xenon.

Problem: to give electricity to such engines, on a spacecraft you need to install either a “nano” nuclear reactor (and ensure the removal of excess heat, and generally heat dissipation), or solar panels the size of several football fields.

*Nuclear reactor:

1. Weightlessness leads to the absence of convective heat exchange in liquid and gaseous heat transfer fluids. Because of this, heat removal and the fight against local overheating of AZ are becoming more complicated.
2. Discharge of parasitic heat from a NPP is possible only through radiation from radiators-coolers (RC). Acceptable masses of PX are obtained if their working temperature is at least 500K (230 С), and better than 800К.
3. Rigid energy-mass characteristics together with the previous item force us to use rather exotic coolants - helium, CO2 or light metals - lithium, potassium, sodium.
4. Cosmic nuclear reactors require very long-term operation without nuclear fuel overload, and, of course, maximum reliability all this time.
5. Terribly expensive.

* Solar panels:

Comments are superfluous here, but I will not restrain myself. The MKS “mugs” presented above in the photo are impressive (by area) ... at the same time, the total power generated by it can reach as much as 32,8 kW (enough for a motor in 24 l / s). And:
1.KPD low and rapidly decreases with distance from the source (the Sun).

2. Rapid degradation of panels from external factors (meteorites, dust, radiation, temperature distortion).
3. Interfere with orientation, navigation, observation, navigation, communication with the PCO.
4. Complicate the orientation and maneuvering of a space object
5. Require source orientation and platform stabilization systems.
6. Very fragile and expensive.

Both of these, of course, greatly affect the complexity of the ship and its mass and cost.

“And what if you leave all this stuffing in earth orbit, near? And it is easy to maintain, and to look after, as well as to feed! ”- the American venerable professor thought.
Eureka! good

It represents an unusual system like this. A large satellite (station) with a gas reserve and a powerful source of energy (the same solar cells of colossal dimensions or a nuclear reactor) is located in a near-earth orbit.

A special device creates a concentrated plasma flow (beam), which accelerates the manned ship itself, striking its magnetic sail.

A ship shrouded in an artificial magnetosphere can accelerate to high speed if it enters a fast plasma stream.

According to the scientist, a plasma torch with an outlet in the 32 meter could create a fairly intense plasma flow, which would have dispersed the magnetic sailboat almost to 12 kilometers per second.

And the further development of technology, the authors of the project say, will allow to further increase the size and power of the beam, which will even more significantly increase the maximum speed of the ship and make those same 90 days possible on a manned expedition “there and back”.

At the same time, in orbit around the Red Planet, naturally, there should be a device similar to the near-earth satellite, which creates a braking plasma flow. It will send the ship with a magnetic sail back to Earth.

NASA is excited. Good money was allocated.
MagBeam: plasma sell

Even a test of the prototype developed at Univ was carried out. Washington in a large vacuum chamber at the test area number 300 in NASA (Marshall Space Flight Center).
I downloaded a bunch of tests (video) from the UW website and uploaded it to my channel on YouTube (click):
My channel
As well as a presentation (for whom it is interesting to click):
MagBeam: R. Winglee, T. Ziemba, J. Prager, B. Roberson & J. Carscadden

When reading the "concept", there are numerous doubts about the justification of such a peculiar approach to interplanetary flight.
1. The generator of ions “fired” from the plasma unit is itself a powerful rocket engine that will lead to the plasma generator leaving the “parking” orbit around the Earth (or Mars), unless a powerful compensating jet drive is provided for, which will complicate and weigh down the system many times . And what's the point in the "plasma wind generator" orbiting the Earth or Mars?

The ion source itself is an excellent electric propulsion engine. And the plasma sail is not needed.

2. No matter how tricky you are (even if you are a professor at Washington University) - the law of conservation of energy does not break, which means the supply of working fluid (from which they will “prepare” plasma) and the power reserve for installation will be no less than when just install such a plasma torch directly to the manned ship as a traction unit.

3. Considering the plasma flux at space distances, not even a laser beam (and “not close at all”), and will greatly dissipate, then the required gas and electrical energy at the launching orbital station will even need to be many times larger (probably by orders of magnitude) compared to a simple installation of the electric propulsion engine on the ship itself, departing for Mars.

4. It would be possible to accept the idea to park a sort of heavy station in near-earth orbit (the Sun is near, the Earth is at a distance of 200-400 km). Of course, this is easier than sending it on a journey deep into the solar system. And bullet, bullet spaceships in the direction of Mars. But bad luck - the same "gizmo" we need to receive a speeding ship near a travel destination. It is necessary to brake too. And although this is not 11-12 km / s, but only 5-6 km / s (on the approach to Mars) ... but you still have to slow down.

It will have to be delivered to the target in a more traditional way (with the help of H-1 / Saturn VI / Falcon 9Heavy) - is it worth it to fuss?

No, of course: if you travel one way and in this way save the Earth from "ethno-miseries". Then yes.

5. Considering the rotation of plasma generators around the planets and the inevitable rotation of their orbital plane relative to the direction of the travel target, constant and very precise control of the orientation of the plasma beam source is required so that as little plasma as possible is lost.

6. During a long journey along the parabola segment between the orbit of the Earth and the orbit of Mars, the straight line between our planet and the ship, to put it mildly, will not coincide with the direction of the velocity vector of the ship.

So that we can push the ship with a beam only for a very short time - immediately shortly after departure from the near-earth orbit. And this will require even more system power, compared to the option where we could accelerate half the way.

These delicate issues on the project site are not explained. But Vingli already dreams of a whole network of such plasma stations located near different planets, throwing each other manned ships and shuttles with cargo.

In theory, the consistency of the idea is obvious, but the quantitative parameters of the system (beam power, station mass with a plasma generator, station with a plasma torch in the destination planet orbit, and so on) make this idea more like the self-pulling of Baron Munchausen from the swamp.

Do you yourself think? Is it inflating space sails or inflating a space agency?

Used materials, documents, photos and videos from sources:
Glibitsky MM Power supply and control systems for electric rocket engines. - M .: Engineering, 1981.
Exo Mars-2016 is an international project of the State Corporation Roscosmos and the European Space Agency.
41 comment

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  1. 501Legion
    501Legion 20 December 2016 15: 22
    powerful work done. high-quality and interesting article. thank
    1. Dmitry Toderes
      Dmitry Toderes 21 December 2016 02: 23

      By the way, this is what Russian electrostatic rocket engines look like. These small ones are apparently needed for satellites. the beauty smile
  2. Russian German
    Russian German 20 December 2016 16: 01
    I am far from space. But last year the Americans bought a patent for the production of a domestic device that generates plasma from atmospheric air. Apparently, this topic worries them very much. For 15 years the Americans tried to do something similar, but as a result they bought from us (this is the question of what Russia is selling). Who cares to see - the "Plazon" apparatus, developed by "Baumanka" - used it to collect material for the dissertation.
    1. opus
      20 December 2016 16: 24
      Quote: Russian German
      But here is the patent for the production of a domestic device that generates plasma from atmospheric air, the Americans bought from us last year

      Are you confusing anything?
      "out of thin air"?
      mb this patent?

      Quote: Russian German
      Who cares to see - the Plazon device, developed by Baumanka -

      Plazon air-plasma coagulator?
      OKB "Fakel"

      Scalpel-coagulator-stimulator air-plasma SKSVP / NO-01 “PLAZON”?
      CJSC "TsVTM at MSTU them. N.E. Bauman
      1. Russian German
        Russian German 20 December 2016 18: 09
        Yes, this is this device. I generate a plasma, I confirm, I work on this device. The plasma flow in this device can even be seen with the eye. It is powered by the 220 B network. Weight - 3500g. I heard personally about the sale of a patent from one of the developers in August this year.
        1. Russian German
          Russian German 20 December 2016 18: 20
          By the way, there are similar devices in the West too, but: 1) They need to be charged with some inert gas, for example, argon plasma coagulators. 2) Price (ours costs 200-300 TR and there is no need to refuel, carry gas cylinders, the air is free). 3) Our device has a second by-product - the air flow in the exhaust air is enriched with nitrogen monoxide - a molecule with various healing properties. Our side effect was identified and began to be used for medicinal purposes. A new way to treat wound and inflammatory processes - NO-therapy.
  3. Proton
    Proton 20 December 2016 16: 42
    Americans no longer know what it would be to invent money to cut money laughing O. Bender would be pleased.
  4. Mwg
    Mwg 20 December 2016 16: 58
    Well. The Americans have already flown to the moon. And they must fly to Mars. Only the scenery in Holywood is built and immediately flies ...
    1. aiw
      aiw 20 December 2016 17: 57
      In connection with the crisis, Mosfilm will do these decorations based on the scenery of Gagarin’s flight.
    2. bastard
      bastard 20 December 2016 21: 11
      Quote: MVG
      Well. The Americans have already flown to the moon. And they must fly to Mars. Only the scenery in Holywood is built and immediately flies ...

      Scenery is not needed, there are computers. hi
  5. fider
    fider 20 December 2016 17: 08
    Well, you’re doing no analogs based on new physical principles, but why aren't Amers happy, or do they have different principles?
  6. aiw
    aiw 20 December 2016 17: 55
    Well, not only do we do all sorts of gravitsaps ... but that's right. The proposed design allows to save the working fluid (there are no restrictions of the Tsiolkovsky formula), but in the case of a good ionic tank the supply of the working fluid is not a bottleneck. But if on the receiving side this device does not start and cannot catch the package ... here the astronauts will be happy! Several streets will be named after them.
  7. Thunderbolt
    Thunderbolt 20 December 2016 18: 05
    But what if you first send an unmanned pioneer ship with a reeling reel of especially strong nanowire to Mars. When it lands, you can attach an inhabited ship to the harness (also with your reel to return) and start pulling up to the precritical gap, and then release the hooks to the ground and the ship will be able to beautifully and naturally reach the orbit of Mars and steer where it is necessary already on a conventional engine.
  8. Baikal
    Baikal 20 December 2016 19: 39
    Thanks for the article, very interesting! And why, in fact, the main character was not given due attention? Should I do everything for you? wink
    So get to know each other closer:
    Robert Wingley

    Professor; Grantee from NASA; Associate Professor, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics UW; Associate Professor, Department of Physics, UW; UW Astrobiology Program Member.
    Research concerns "space plasma, physics and technology, outer space around planets and advanced space propulsion systems."
    Explore cabbage - would drown for drank dough on a brine engine. For a real professor of physics cannot offer the above nonsense with plasma tenis.
    On the other hand it can. And in all seriousness. But then it’s really scary for their education.
  9. Darth Revan
    Darth Revan 20 December 2016 20: 05
    The future of astronautics is with cold fusion thermo-nuclear engines and space curvature generators (hyperdrive). But for some reason, work is not being stubbornly carried out in this direction. request
    1. Baikal
      Baikal 20 December 2016 20: 07
      What is the "government hiding" again? belay
      1. Krabik
        Krabik 20 December 2016 20: 37
        I feel the dark power, my padawan;)
        1. Baikal
          Baikal 20 December 2016 20: 53
          Quietly, master, do not scare conspiracy theorists laughing
    2. Mikhail m
      Mikhail m 20 December 2016 20: 23
      Yeah. And they forgot about teleportation. And the direction is promising. Take any fantastic book - everyone flies there like that. Nearby galaxies master.
      1. Mwg
        Mwg 21 December 2016 03: 52
        Do not forget. In the center of the galaxy, Amer scientists discovered black holes, which they recognized as narrow gaps in other worlds, or as other holes between points in space. Now they think in what way to penetrate these cracks)))
        1. g1washntwn
          g1washntwn 21 December 2016 07: 11
          Traveling through wormholes is possible at the current level of development. One problem - we will be able to enter (if we crawl to such a hole), but from the other side we will leave in the form of radiation and we do not know how to put ourselves back :)
        2. Volzhanin
          Volzhanin 21 December 2016 14: 54
          Anglo-Jews without soap will crawl into any crevice.
    3. Vadim237
      Vadim237 20 December 2016 20: 38
      The subject of NASA’s hyperdrive was opened in 2012. The deadline for the possible completion of work is a minimum of 100 years.
      1. Mwg
        Mwg 21 December 2016 03: 54
        Oh well. Like Khoja Nasreddin: in a hundred years, either the donkey will die, or the owner of the donkey ....
    4. kit_bellew
      kit_bellew 20 December 2016 22: 21
      Quote: Darth Revan
      The future of astronautics is with cold fusion thermo-nuclear engines and space curvature generators (hyperdrive). But for some reason, work is not being stubbornly carried out in this direction.

      You forgot about the zero element, repeaters and mass effect. True, according to rumors, in order to develop all this, one must again first fly to Mars. Vicious circle, damn it wassat
      1. PSih2097
        PSih2097 21 December 2016 16: 01
        Quote: kit_bellew
        You forgot about the zero element, repeaters and mass effect. True, according to rumors, in order to develop all this, one must again first fly to Mars. Vicious circle, wassat damn

        and what would the ship's commander be called Shepard, without him there is no way ... laughing
    5. KaPToC
      KaPToC 21 December 2016 23: 51
      Quote: Darth Revan
      The future of astronautics is with fusion engines in cold fusion

      Cold fusion is a myth
    6. Maki Avellevich
      Maki Avellevich 24 December 2016 17: 12
      Quote: Darth Revan
      The future of astronautics is for cold fusion thermo-nuclear engines and space curvature generators (hyperdrive)

      You will take an interest in what, even in theory, the energy consumption is required for "hyperdrive" and everything will immediately fall into place.
  10. Bashibuzuk
    Bashibuzuk 20 December 2016 20: 26
    Read-read .... comments are required. And here is what I think:
    The professor received a grant. The grant must be worked out. So he fulfills.
    Draw up diagrams, give calculations, draw a couple of formulas. Make an estimate. Will issue a pair of copyright. He will write a monograph or several articles.
    The work will be done. Funds disbursed.
    And in my opinion, there is no question of real returns, especially real flights.
    Launching drones? You can't do it alone. Was the issue of managing the entire complex considered? Of course not. And this task is no less, but no more formidable, than to pile a couple of "heavyweights" in orbit. Radio waves, damn it, propagate at a finite speed. So also to do the way back - for feedback. Not, of course, you can use the same beams-packets-waves-rays in the Morse code mode instead of radio waves. They froze into a rocket, and she counted the information, there is nothing in this, it’s just not complicated. But .... but .... and then it is not easier to make a slingshot in orbit, as in that joke about the Chinese.
    In addition, no matter how brilliant the idea of ​​shooting beams-waves-quanta at a rocket flying away from us (or flying up to us) remains the main question - why fly somewhere if it is impossible to land on the surface!
    And now, so far, there are no engines other than chemical ones capable of lifting the load from the surface into orbit. This bezdelka with rays, if it can lift something, then at best a pack of cigarettes. And even then it will burn completely, in the process of recovery.
    So it turns out, we will have to drive somewhere to hell with a chemical apparatus, a high-torque engine, for maneuvers there, in place.
    And we will drive - blowing into the sails of the ionic wind - relatively speaking.
    Feelings of narcissism do not appear? I already have it.
    Indeed, exquisite ping pong in space. Ping is. Pong is. And reality is completely absent.
    So I think.

    PS. Sandra Bullock managed to fly in space in general with a single-disconnected fire extinguisher. Dead, in addition. So maybe, to develop a fire extinguisher more thoroughly, so that Mars is enough. And back. AND?
  11. Vadim237
    Vadim237 20 December 2016 20: 40
    Better let them create a nuclear gas-phase rocket engine - an expensive thing, but still fast.
  12. sogdianec
    sogdianec 21 December 2016 02: 12
    But what I think is the lack of a plasma beam - it is scattered. And even the laser beam is scattered. But what if you use solids. For example, frozen cocoa ... excrement from the push of a space station.
    A beam of solids is sent from the launch station to the sails of a flying shuttle to Mars. On approaching the finish line, our / their ship is already greeted by a stream decelerating the spacecraft. By the way, used gav ... can be caught for reuse. And no loss of dispersion of the working fluid !!!
    1. g1washntwn
      g1washntwn 21 December 2016 07: 18
      Such a honolet will arrive to Mars and the Martians will cancel the invasion :)
  13. pimen
    pimen 21 December 2016 09: 17
    and nevertheless, I would like to ask the main question: does the manned space program have at least some (foreseeable!) future? (Well, except, perhaps, to remove satellites from orbit, for repair)
  14. zoolu300
    zoolu300 21 December 2016 11: 54
    Everything has long been clear. For manned flights to Mars, Ganymede, Titan, a gas-phase nuclear rocket engine is needed, and for unmanned cargo delivery there also a nuclear power plant + SPD.
  15. Tektor
    Tektor 21 December 2016 13: 08
    A bit offtopic. If we focus on the ion engine, then it is reasonable to take "dry ice" as the working fluid, it is also carbon dioxide in a solid state, i.e. at temperatures below -72 C and atmospheric pressure. It is heavier than argon. Ammonia is worse (lighter), but it has a melting point of about -40 C, if I am not mistaken, it can go off in reserve.
    1. opus
      21 December 2016 17: 58
      Quote: Tektor
      If we focus on the ion engine, then it is reasonable to take "dry ice" as a working fluid, it is also carbon dioxide in a solid state, i.e. at temperatures below -72 C and atmospheric pressure.

      For an ionic RD (as well as for any other ERD), the following parameter is important: MINIMUM MASS of a molecule / atom (well, the presence of "free" ions and so is the ionization energy)

      The ion engine has high power consumption with an equal level of traction.

      ions are found in all aggregate states of matter: in gases (in particular, in the atmosphere), in liquids (in melts and solutions), in crystals and in plasma (in particular, in interstellar space). You can take mercury (which is more compact), but ionize it and then disperse it in the EMF. crying

      Dependence of atomic ionization energy on the element serial number

      But better alkali metals - their atoms easily lose their external electrons under the influence of light.

      Quote: Tektor
      It is heavier than argon. Ammonia - worse (lighter)

      The principle of the engine is to ionize the gas and its acceleration by an electrostatic field.
      The difference in electrostatic potentials of m / y grids: + 1090 volts on the internal versus - 225 volts on the external.

      Craving they still minuscule
      And here is the UI!
      30 ion engine 000m / s
      4 600 / s Liquid Rocket Engine
      Lighter mass, LESS potential difference (energy consumption) = MORE SPEED

      CO2 - partially inert gas, di and ionization energy ...
      and there are many electrons on the outer shell
      Quote: Tektor
      atmospheric pressure.

      there is no "atmospheric pressure".
      Yes, and required RT minuscule
      The ion engine currently holds a record of non-gravitational acceleration of a spacecraft in space - Deep Space 1 was able to increase the speed of an apparatus weighing about 370 kg by 4,3 km / s, having consumed 74 kg of xenon
      1. Vadim237
        Vadim237 22 December 2016 12: 16
        And what do you say about the EmDrive engine
        1. opus
          22 December 2016 15: 49
          Quote: Vadim237
          And what do you say about the EmDrive engine

          I want to embed the article.
          Do you think it will be interesting to read?
          If EmDrive manages to scale, then flying to the nearest stars instead of hundreds and thousands of years could take only a few tens of years.
          1. Vadim237
            Vadim237 23 December 2016 23: 52
            I think it will be very interesting - in fact, this engine is a "self-pressurized resonator sail"
  16. Aqela
    Aqela 22 December 2016 13: 10
    In short, that the ion cannon, that the heavy machine gun, that the rocket engine on kerosene are common problems. It’s just that on traditional technologies it’s more difficult to get a gigantic budget cut ... As Newton said, action is equal to counteraction, nothing can be changed, except for techniques that have advanced a tech budget cut ... Newton never dreamed of such numbers ... belay
    1. Maki Avellevich
      Maki Avellevich 24 December 2016 17: 19
      Quote: Aqela
      As Newton said

      not everything, it’s more correct to say practically nothing around us is not explained and does not obey Newtonian physics.
      read Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg at the end.

      “Don't be sad,” said Alice. - Sooner or later everything will become clear, everything will fall into place and line up in a single beautiful pattern, like lace. It will become clear why everything was needed, because everything will be right.