Bussard ramjet spacecraft, artwork

Bussard ramjet spacecraft, artwork

C011/9319 Rights Managed

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Credit: VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Bussard ramjet spacecraft in space, 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 right), and into a fusion reactor. Hot plasma from the reactor exits through the exhaust nozzle (lower left), 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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