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35
votes
6answers
3k views

Why are rockets so big?

I'm curious why rockets are so big in their size. Since both the gravitational potential one need to overcome in order to put thing into orbit, and the chemical energy burned from the fuel, are ...
14
votes
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 ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

What Problems for 50 year space probe to Alpha Centauri?

I'm thinking speculatively. NASA is doing experiment with ion thrust tech. Assuming, that inside the next 5 years, we could create a probe which would take on the order of 30 to 50 years to reach ...
7
votes
1answer
355 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 ...
7
votes
0answers
434 views

Does positronium have a stable crystalline phase?

This is a long shot, but while the 100YSS conference is going on at Houston, i haven't been able to get a grip on myself and think in other, more mundane and short-term rewards as normal people do. ...
6
votes
2answers
521 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
447 views

Would a fish in a sealed ball swim normally?

This question led me to wonder whether swimming would be the same experience for a fish in a full, sealed ball as it is normally. If the fish is about 7cm from the walls of the tank, a pressure wave ...
6
votes
2answers
229 views

Saturn V F-1 engines and beyond

I read that the F-1 engine from the 1st stage of the Saturn V rocket is the most powerful engine ever created by mankind, delivering ~200 gigawatts of power. Thus, I have got two questions: Will ...
6
votes
2answers
271 views

relativistic spaceship, CMB radiation and thermodynamics

Scenario: a spaceship is travelling at a high fraction of $c$. The interstellar gas and CMB radiation has blueshifted significantly and we are facing a possible melting of the front radiation shield! ...
5
votes
1answer
195 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
282 views

Mirrors and light beam divergence technology limits

There are many applications for orbital space mirrors in astronomy (better telescopes) and space propulsion (solar power for deep space probes), but this is limited by the minimum beam divergence ...
4
votes
3answers
1k 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?
4
votes
3answers
704 views

Why is an Aircraft Runway NOT like a Teaspoon?

If the aircraft runway were like a teaspoon (by this I mean, flat in the beginning, then curving downwards and finally upwards), would it not work in favor of the propulsion of the aircraft? In spite ...
4
votes
1answer
339 views

Could this fountain, under the right conditions, technically be able to lift me up?

There is a big fountain in a lake in my city. I was talking with a friend and we were wondering whether it would be able to lift me up. I sent a few emails and obtained information about the ...
4
votes
1answer
261 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
168 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
74 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
80 views

thermodynamics of a dual-face surface in space

This question is a continuation from this one. A material disk have two sides, one that is reflective and another absorptive of electromagnetic radiation in the range where the background cosmic ...
3
votes
6answers
6k views

Ion Drive Propulsion Top Speed

I would like to know if there is some formula / graph which would provide / show the efficiency of a certain type of propeller in space. Specifically, I'm interested in the acceleration attainable at ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Can Ionocrafts be improved by breaking them up into multiple stages?

Ionocraft or "lifters" are lightweight devices that produce thrust by ionizing the air around an electrode, and then accelerating the ions toward another electrode with an electric field, during which ...
3
votes
3answers
308 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
100 views

positronium BEC stability

After reading this article regarding Positronium BEC formation (for lasing purposes), there is a mention in there regarding Ps "up" atoms not annihilating with "down" atoms, the article is pretty ...
2
votes
1answer
165 views

Can methane be used as a fuel to launch space vehicles?

Methane is apparently the most easily available hydrocarbon. It is also a flammable, and highly combustible fuel; does burning methane provide sufficient power-weight to be used to launch artificial ...
2
votes
3answers
494 views

How does the solar sailing concept work?

Wikipedia describes solar sailing as a form of spacecraft propulsion using a combination of light and high speed ejected gasses from a star to push large ultra-thin mirrors to high speeds. I ...
2
votes
2answers
240 views

A student of mine wants to build a Gyroscopic Inertial Thruster

I work as a tutor with students in their first three semesters. One of my more eager students is obsessed with this thing: A Gyroscopic Inertial Thruster Here is a Wikipedia Article on that. I was ...
2
votes
2answers
85 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
304 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
123 views

What parameters determine the acceleration a spacecraft can acquire using the gravity of a celestial body?

Contemporary spacecraft frequently rely upon gravity to accelerate/decelerate. Given a spacecraft already in space - What factors determine the acceleration it can acquire from the gravity of another ...
2
votes
1answer
79 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
183 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?
2
votes
1answer
48 views

How far from a spacecraft would it's exhaust cool to BR temperatures?

Just a thought that came to mind ... The rockets on interplanetary scouts fire to impart motive/braking force to the craft. This force, I understand, is simply a reaction engine - the exhaust ...
2
votes
0answers
121 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
130 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: ...
1
vote
2answers
78 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
855 views

Can Outer Space be used for Waste Disposal?

If harmful toxic, nuclear and other wastes are dangerous if improperly disposed on Earth, can't they be launched into space? If a large, tightly bound mass of waste were to be propelled into outer ...
1
vote
2answers
219 views

How can thrust be generated in space which is a vacuum?

Since thrusters have no matter to push off of, how can a spacecraft generate thrust in the vacuum of space?
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Difference between deltaV and specific impulse

When reading any literature regarding space propulsion, I keep getting about these terms deltaV and ISP or specific impulse. I know specific impulse is supposed to be the velocity the propellant mass ...
1
vote
1answer
129 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) ...
1
vote
1answer
176 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
102 views

What sort of rocket propulsion would be required to send and retrieve ores from our solar system's asteroid belt, within a 2 year period? [closed]

I am looking for a form of propulsion to achieve a fraction of C that could send and retrieve mining robots to our solar system's asteroid belt. Does this type of propulsion even currently exist?
1
vote
2answers
40 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
67 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.
1
vote
1answer
44 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
125 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
82 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
vote
1answer
112 views

Fluid Virtual Mass

In this paper of Lighthill, the author studies the motion of a fish in a constant flow field $U$, modelling the movement of the fish as a deforming, rotationally symmetric, rigid surface in an ...
1
vote
0answers
56 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
56 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
120 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
61 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 ...