Design of a fusion propulsion system - Part 1: Gigawatt-level magnetoplasmadynamic source

Pavlos G. Mikellides, Peter J. Turchi, Ioannis G. Mikellides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Optimum travel duration for manned interplanetary missions requires propulsion systems that deliver very high thrust, on the order of a thousand Newtons, in conjunction with specific impulse capabilities that exceed 10, 000 s. Theoretically, rocket propellants consisting of fusion reactants intermixed with large masses of low-molecular-weight fuels can be expanded within a magnetic nozzle to meet these requirements. To produce the power levels associated with such systems, a gigawatt pulse line called Godzilla is adapted for experimental development. The megajoole-level energy available is electromagnetically deposited in cold helium gas to simulate the fusion-heated, low-molecular-weight propellant. The magnetohydrodynamic computer code, MACH2, is employed to provide guidelines in the design of this magnetoplasmadynamic plasma source. The numerical results specify the geometric configuration and operation conditions required to overcome destructive effects associated with these power levels within experimental limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-151
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 17 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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