NIAC Award: A Pulsed Plasma Rocket for Fast Human Transits to Mars

Depiction of the Pulsed Plasma Rocket: Shielded, Fast Transits for Humans to Mars concept. (Credits: Steven Howe)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Amount: $125,000

Pulsed Plasma Rocket: Shielded, Fast Transits for Humans to Mars

Steven Howe
Howe Industries LLC

Development of a space faring civilization will depend on the ability to move cargo efficiently and humans rapidly. Due to the large distances involved in space travel, the ships must reach a high velocity for reasonable mission transit times. Thus, propulsion systems with high specific impulse (Isp) AND high thrust are required.


EADS-Astrium to Test New Plasma Thruster

An interesting item from via the CNES website:

A new type of plasma thruster (helicon double layer) invented by a physicist from the Australian National University (ANU) some years ago will be tested in a prototype satellite to be launched into space over the next four years . This is the first propellant propellant of this type and it will be the first time a spacecraft will use this type of propellant.

The project funded by the European company EADS Astrium will be collaboration between the ANU, the University of Surrey and EADS-Astrium. The propellant will be based on the double layer thruster helicon (HDLT for Helicon Double Layer Thruster) developed at the ANU. The principle of propulsion based on the electrostatic acceleration of a plasma by an electrical double layer.

Electric Plasma Engines Becoming Key to Future Space Exploration

The Efficient Future of Deep-Space Travel – Electric Rockets
Scientific American

Alone amid the cosmic blackness, NASA’s Dawn space probe speeds beyond the orbit of Mars toward the asteroid belt. Launched to search for insights into the birth of the solar system, the robotic spacecraft is on its way to study the asteroids Vesta and Ceres, two of the largest remnants of the planetary embryos that collided and combined some 4.57 billion years ago to form today’s planets.