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If humanity was to send a probe to Proxima Centauri, how long would the travel last?

[Feb 3 2016] (I am including the date I asked this as a reference, since technology evolves with time, this question's answer will change in time...) If humanity was to send a probe to the nearest ...
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1answer
28 views

Basic PE question about moving a planet.

If you lifted enormous masses (eg. many gigantic rocks) at one point (A) of the planet's equator. Then after 180 degree planet rotation, released the potential energy by lowering the rocks (B). ...
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0answers
21 views

Concentration and manipulation of magnetic fields [duplicate]

is it possible to concentrate magnetic fields, via concave electric coils? If a current is induced in such as a concave cylinder shaped coil.
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1answer
64 views

How to calculate the thrust of a rocket with relativistic exhaust

The general thrust equation is $F = \frac{dm}{dt}\cdot v$, where $m$ is propellant's mass and $v$ is the exhaust velocity, is the equation right? What if the propellant is highly relativistic? One ...
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2answers
66 views

If an object has a constant force being applied to it perpendicular to gravity, will the object fall slower?

If this was on a hypothetical flat plane (so not curved like the earth) and a rocket is flying horizontally, would the horizontal propulsion slow down the rocket's descent or even stop it from falling ...
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2answers
178 views

The NERVA had to use liquid H2… But why?

The NERVA engine, developed at the late 60ies, was a nuclear thermal rocket developed for vacuum use in space craft. It was supposed to use Liquid Hydrogen, a cryogenic fuel with quite a few issues ...
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0answers
28 views

Redirectioning photons through magnetic lenses

What shape magnet/s would I need to create parallel lines from the ends of a rod shaped magnet?or what shape of magnet would create parallel lines? Is this close?
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1answer
66 views

How does gas spin the turbine in a jet engine?

I am confused about how the energy from the ignited gas spins a turbine in a jet engine, as pictured below ...
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3answers
873 views

Does an ion thrust engine consume more energy as it speeds up?

This question goes to a very basic non-understanding of mine that I have had in the back of my mind for ages - I just read the following here: ion thrusters are capable of propelling a spacecraft ...
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1answer
37 views

Molecular analysis of Rocket propulsion

Newton's third law states,For every action exerted by an object A on object B,there will be an equal and opposite reaction on A. In case of rockets,during ejection of hot gases with high ...
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3answers
2k views

Trying to understand jet engine [closed]

I'm trying to understand at a high level how a jet engine works. I want to know if the following summary I wrote is more or less accurate: The jet compresses regular air into a combustion chamber. ...
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2answers
156 views

Thrust in space without expelling mass

The classic rockets move losing their mass in one direction and moving to the other direction. Thinking about an alternative engine where we lose very small mass. This is how the engine works The ...
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2answers
429 views

How does a rocket's exhaust gas' momentum propel a rocket?

During the launch of a rocket into space, the exhaust gases from the engine possess momentum. Outline, with the help of an equation, how this causes the rocket to be propelled upwards. Can ...
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2answers
296 views

Velocity of Rocket Exhaust

i recently learned a bit of rocket propulsion.It wasn't much complex but was explained in simple terms.The only problem i had understanding it was that in calculating the thrust of rocket the velocity ...
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2answers
109 views

Is it possible to reach outer space with this method? [duplicate]

Could we use a hot air balloon to carry a rocket and send it into orbit at a higher altitude? That is, do I need to reach a specific speed to be completely free of Earth's gravity, or can I just ...
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0answers
52 views

A simple detailed book on how/why model rocket engines and parachutes work

I'm planning on getting a model rocket in the near future to fire off w/ my 2 daughters (9 and 11). I'm going to require first that they learn how/why rocket engines and parachutes work (so they can ...
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2answers
90 views

Electrolysis boat engine

Would it be possible to create a submersible boat engine using the combined principles of electrolysis of water, ramjet propulsion, and hydrogen-oxygen combustion similar to that used in rocket ...
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0answers
40 views

Is a “cathode ray drive” feasible?

When I saw the headline, Fuel Free Spacecrafts Using Graphene, I thought it was another reactionless drive, but it turned out to be a bit more plausible :) Original paper here. Long story short, ...
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1answer
390 views

What are the proposed theoretical explanations for the EmDrive?

The EmDrive is a proposed propulsion mechanism for spacecraft in which some form of microwave device provides the propulsion. The consensus from the physics community, including many voices on this ...
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1answer
100 views

Why don't we build helicopter based space shuttles?

As seen in this video: the principle of the helicopter does work in space. So we could make a helicopter based space shuttle! It would be easier to navigate with it than with propulsors.
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0answers
131 views

What exactly is NASA's proposed mechanism for “propellantless” “EM Drive” propulsion? [duplicate]

Of course, this question runs perilously close to this site's prohibition against discussing non-mainstream physics. However, the accepted answer in meta about what is acceptable and what is not ...
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0answers
63 views

What are the evidences that support the EmDrive? [duplicate]

Firstly, I'd like to point that I’m from Brazil, so forgive me for any errors in my writing. Today, i found myself reading a journal who said that NASA is closer to detecting Warp Bubbles predicted ...
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3answers
133 views

What sort of propulsion technology would allow spaceships to lift off the surface of the Earth and ascend into space like we see in sci-fi movies?

In many sci-fi films, spacecraft are easily capable of lifting off the surface of a planet like a Harrier and ascending into space. It's clear that the propulsion system/jet engines aren't your ...
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3answers
169 views

Intuition behind Ideal rocket equation

If a rocket expels propellant at a velocity of $v_e$ decreasing its mass from $m_0$ to $m_1$, then according to the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation the change in velocity of the rocket ($\Delta v$) is: ...
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1answer
234 views

Why does deflating baloon spurting through the air make circular motion? [duplicate]

When you inflate a balloon and then let it go again, it will fly through the air in an unpredictable motion. My kids (1 and 3 year old) love watching this. At some point my oldest asked how it worked ...
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1answer
119 views

Propulsion force on a laser pointer?

How to calculate propulsion force on a laser pointer in reaction to the emitted light power in watts? Should I just divide power by speed of light? Since power is energy per unit of time, hence ...
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1answer
153 views

Thrust and specific impulse of a rocket

A picture of the question this originates from is given below. Note: I normally work with SI units and am mostly unfamiliar with those used here. The specific impulse of a rocket can be calculated ...
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1answer
81 views

Prove thrust is double the dynamic pressure across a nozzle

I'm trying to teach myself some of the content from 'Rocket Propulsion Elements' by George P. Sutton. After reading over the first couple of chapters feeling like I understood everything, I came ...
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3answers
349 views

Relativistic beamed photon propulsion

I am analysing the flight profiles possible with a lightsail powered by a photon beam, up into the relativistic regime. In an inertial frame, the sail acceleration is $A$. The onboard acceleration ...
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2answers
648 views

Why is Xenon favored as the propellant in electric thrusters?

Most of the articles I've read on electric thrusters mention that Xenon is generally, with some exceptions, used as the propellant (or would it be termed reaction mass?). They never mention why ...
2
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1answer
202 views

How can I caculate the time to traverse a distance with the Tsiolkovsky equation?

Using the Tsiolkovsky equation I know what the change in velocity is after burning x amount of fuel. $$ \Delta V = V_e \dot\ log(\frac{m_1}{m_1-m_2}) $$ $m_1$ is my starting mass and $m_2$ is the ...
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1answer
396 views

Self-Accelerating wavepackets: What are they and can they impulse a spaceship?

Nature today published a (paywalled) article that mentions 'Self-accelerating Dirac wavepackets'. They claim that they behave in a similar fashion as the diffractive tricks of polarized beams that ...
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2answers
630 views

Delta-V of ion thrusters

So I recently started a podcast along with a cohost. It's all about spaceflight. We ran into a question we couldn't quite resolve due to conflicting information on the internet. Put simply: Can ...
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0answers
168 views

Electrostatic ion thruster neutralizers

All electrostatic Ion thrusters have a neutralizer electron beam, but why are they required? Is avoiding the accumulation of negative charge the only reason? I would've thought that the main reason ...
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1answer
437 views

Alternative air transportation and magneto-aerodynamics

Firstly, I am not a big fan of UFOs, however, a flying saucer makes me think if is there another, comparatively agile way to travel through the air without jets, turbines or propellers (balloons are ...
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2answers
418 views

Does conservation of momentum mean a gyroscopic inertial thruster cannot work?

There is a device called the gyroscopic inertial thruster. Here is a Wikipedia article on it. I believe that this device cannot possibly work and that conservation of momentum proves that it cannot ...
4
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1answer
365 views

Why is specific impulse measured in seconds?

Specific impulse is usually defined as: $$I_{sp} = \frac{F_T}{\dot m ~ g_0} $$ This comes out in seconds. I interpret it as follows: If I want $F$ Newtons of thrust, every second I must burn a ...
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1answer
61 views

Maneuvering a space shuttle using propulsion systems?

A colleague and I randomly started on this subject, and, not being very good at anything science / physics related we were stumped at how this might work. So the question is: If I park my space ship ...
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1answer
149 views

What's the point of NASA's impossible space engine? Wouldn't a mirror work better?

My understanding (which is very little) is that the point of NASA's recent virtual-particle engine is to convert solar energy into momentum. That's fine, but what's the point? If the spacecraft is ...
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4answers
1k views

NASA's “Impossible” Space Engine

Recently, there was some news that said that the researchers at NASA have come across some impossible kind of space engine which does not require any fuel. I have read at a few places like here, here ...
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2answers
94 views

Are all methods of propulsion based on the same principle?

I am struggling with coming up with a way to differentiate between propulsion on the most basic level. Are all methods of propulsion based on throwing stuff in the opposite direction? Can the be no ...
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3answers
2k views

Why does the speed of the propellant limit the speed of a space ship in open space?

Isn't speed a relative thing in space? If so, why would the speed of a propellant matter? Why can't a space ship accelerate infinitely?
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2answers
76 views

Are Mach Diamonds radially symmetrical?

Videos like this show a form that suggests a radial symmetry in the gas jet. The same is reinforced by schematic illustrations. But other images, like this, look like there is a twisting structure ...
0
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1answer
66 views

Launching a unpropelled rocket

I have read about the application of railguns and other ground powered launch, where there is no need to carry any propellant in the rocket. I am wondering, to what velocity should the vehicle ...
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1answer
139 views

Why won't this reactionless drive idea work (motor with a moving weight in space)

I know people will say it violates many laws of motion and conservation but could anyone explain why it is so? It's NOT a question about free energy. Imagine a motor in space. It has an arm (rod) ...
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1answer
218 views

Dyson air blade principle as a propulsion system for an autonomous underwater vehicle?

Any thoughts on applying this principle to an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) ? if the power source is a battery, would its efficiency be beneficial to that of a propulsion system?
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1answer
92 views

Standing sound wave tube

If there was a standing sound wave tube and a flammable gas was introduced then ignited, would the combustion be more forceful and more efficient since its following a standing wave, than just a gas ...
1
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1answer
282 views

How jet engine works in vacuum

Its not about availability of oxygen for combustion of gases. I want to know since there is no air or friction providing things in vaccum, how the force applied by a jet engine get can make thrust to ...
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1answer
172 views

Propulsion force [closed]

My physics instructor gave us a general problem A box is sitting motionless on a rough, horizontal patch of ground. You give it a good kick, so that it slides to the right with an initial speed of ...
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1answer
469 views

Is it true that a Space Shuttle launch is powerful like an “average” nuclear explosion?

Kind of an odd question here. First let's define what an "average" nuclear explosion is, because that's quite a controversial term - "average". Considering that the peak of nuclear tests was at the ...