Bussard ramjet spacecraft, artwork

Bussard ramjet spacecraft, artwork

C011/9318 Rights Managed

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Credit: VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Bussard ramjet spacecraft, artwork. This theoretical future spaceship technology, proposed in 1960, uses the hydrogen gas found between the stars. Even though the interstellar hydrogen density is very low, a powerful magnetic field would be generated to 'scoop' hydrogen from a large volume of space. The hydrogen would pass into the fuel scoop (upper left), and into a fusion reactor. Hot plasma from the reactor exits through the exhaust nozzle (lower right), providing thrust. Such a ship could approach the speed of light, when relativity effects would shorten journey times to the stars.

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