• Published Papers
  • Open Access
  • Fundamental Architecture and Analysis of an Antimatter Ultra-Intense Laser Derived Pulsed Space Propulsion System
  • DOI: 10.4236/jamp.2014.25002   PP.10 - 18, Pub. Date: April 24 , 2014
  • Author(s)
  • Robert Le Moyne, Timothy Mastroianni
  • Antimatter has been generated in large quantities by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Titan laser. The Titan laser is an ultra-intense laser system on the order of approximately 1020W/cm2 with pulse durations of roughly 1ps. With the Titan laser incident on a high atomic number target, such as gold, antimatter on the scale of 2 × 1010 positrons are generated. Roughly 90% of the generated positrons are ejected anisotropic and aft to the respective target. The mechanisms for the laser-derived positron antimatter generation involve electron interaction with the nuclei based on bremsstrahlung photons that yield electron-positron pairs as a consequence of the Bethe-Heitler process, which predominates the Trident process. Given the constraints of the current and near future technology space, a pulsed space propulsion configuration is advocated for antimatter derived space propulsion, similar in concept to pulsed radioisotope propulsion. Antimatter is generated through an ultra-intense laser on the scale of a Titan laser incident on a gold target and annihilated in a closed chamber, representative of a combustion chamber. Upon reaching a temperature threshold, the closed chamber opens, producing a pulse of thrust. The implication of the pulsed space propulsion antimatter architecture is that the energy source for the antimatter propulsion system can be decoupled from the actual spacecraft. In contrast to conventional chemical propulsion systems, which require storage of its respective propulsive chemical potential energy, the proposed antimatter propulsion architecture may have the energy source at a disparate location from the spacecraft. The ultra-intense laser could convey its laser energy over a distance to the actual spacecraft equipped with the positron antimatter pulsed space propulsion system. Hydrogen is considered as the propulsive fluid, in light of its low molecular weight. Fundamental analysis is applied to preliminarily define the performance of the positron antimatter derived pulsed space propulsion system. The fundamental performance analysis of the antimatter pulsed space propulsion system successfully reveals the architecture is viable for further evaluation.
  • Ultra-Intense Laser, Antimatter, Positron, Antimatter Propulsion, Antimatter Generation, Space Propulsion
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