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NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts

The Fusion Driven Rocket: Nuclear Propulsion through Direct Conversion of Fusion Energy

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The Fusion Driven rocket (FDR) represents a revolutionary approach to fusion propulsion where the power source releases its energy directly into the propellant, not requiring conversion to electricity. It employs a solid lithium propellant that requires no significant tankage mass, which is rapidly heated and accelerated to high exhaust velocity, while having no significant physical interaction with the spacecraft thereby avoiding damage to the rocket and limiting both the thermal heat load and radiator mass.

Current nuclear fusion efforts have focused on the generation of electric grid power and are wholly inappropriate for space transportation as the application of a reactor based fusion-electric system creates a colossal mass and heat rejection problem for space application. The Fusion Driven rocket (FDR) represents a revolutionary approach to fusion propulsion where the power source releases its energy directly into the propellant, not requiring conversion to electricity. It employs a solid lithium propellant that requires no significant tankage mass. The propellant is rapidly heated and accelerated to high exhaust velocity (> 30 km/s), while having no significant physical interaction with the spacecraft thereby avoiding damage to the rocket and limiting both the thermal heat load and radiator mass.

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Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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Project Management

Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

Technology Areas

A final report document may be available for this project. If you would like to request it, please contact us.

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