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Submission + - Save the space shuttle, or is it something better? (

theonlyaether writes: Michael Thomas believes that not only could we be zipping around the solar system at breakneck speed, but we could easily visit nearby star systems within the rather minuscule time frame of several years. That is if of course, if we weren't still burning rocket fuel to get around. What should we be using instead? An Advanced Electric Propulsion Linear Electron Beam Particle Accelerator, of course! By giving the skin of the spacecraft a positive charge, Thomas theorizes that the abundant electrons in space could easily be absorbed, and shot out of a linear accelerator, powered by a pebble bed nuclear reactor that would supply a (!)humble 25 megawatts per second, for as long as 10 years. With a rather promising 1g per second of constant acceleration, one could surmise that even long flights would be manageable, as long as the ceiling doubled as a floor during deceleration, of course. The Published Paper, Theory and Concepts, and Design Concept are all available for download.The issue of collisions is not discussed however, should space travel become commonplace, I'm sure we would adapt quickly. Full story posted here.

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