NASA Technical Reports – Review #1

Fusion energy for space missions in the 21st Century

Norman Schulze’s massive study covers the major options and their state of development as of 1991. 20 years on and his good advice has been largely ignored, not for technical reasons, but because the vision of a long-term interplanetary future seems unpalatable for the powers-that-be. Why?

Massive amount of information on all the fusion options, as of 1991, including the Field Reversed Configuration, which is a favourite approach of Rostoker and co. Schulze computes the performance of different fusion rocket concepts, though the performance figures are surprisingly low. An Isp of 270,000 seconds for a probe to Alpha Centauri, which means multi-century mission times. Dyson’s “Orion” and “Daedalus” got 1,000,000-1,5000,000 seconds, though the designs aren’t as elaborated as Schulze’s.