Space Exploration has always been an expensive affair. Not only does it require construction of complicated equipment that can survive the hardships of space, but it also requires a lot of sophisticated propulsion technologies as well.
The construction requirements for these space exploration vehicles, as well as their rockets differs from mission to mission, as the purpose and duration also differs.
While going on nearby missions, like the one to the moon isn’t that big a deal anymore, this need for complex construction increases by a lot more when we are talking about long term missions like the one to Mars.
The reason being that with current technology, we would need a lot of supplies and equipment just to get there, not to mention the ones needed to stay there.
To help reduce this burden of fuel storage, researchers are now working on a new type of Plasma Rockets that will help increase the efficiency and longevity of space vehicles by a large margin.
These Plasma rockets work by transforming fuel into plasma which is then ejected to push a spacecraft. Not only does this provide a viable alternate to regular fuel, but it can also reduce fuel usage by 90 percent.
The reason that these types of rockets aren’t used more frequently, despite their efficiency, is the fact that the thrust produced by them is way low when compared to regular fuel.
So, it can only be used to navigate in zero gravity conditions. In addition, the energy released through this procedure is enough to destroy anything that it comes in contact with.
This means that it can easily deteriorate the rocket itself over a long period of time. As you can understand, these are the issues that are to be worked out before we can use this technology on a long term basis.
These issues are the actual focus of this new research, and they hope to solve them by building a new type of self healing chamber wall, which would recapture the parts that break off due to the plasma energy release.
If successful, these walls would let plasma rockets last for several years, which in space exploration terms would make them for all intents and purposes, immortal.
We do not yet know exactly what type of materials would make this thing possible, but the researchers at the University Of California are not leaving any stone unturned in search for them.
We will make sure to keep you updated, just in case they find something interesting.