Project Bussard

Description: This is a research project initiated in July 2012 by members of The Institute for Interstellar Studies. It is a research project to investigate the physics and engineering issues associated with the Bussard interstellar ramjet. Over the years, variations on the interstellar ramjet design have been proposed. This includes the Ram Augmented Interstellar Ramjet, first proposed in 1974 by Daedalus designer Alan Bond, who proposed using the interstellar hydrogen only as a reaction mass. The interstellar hydrogen is not converted to helium in a fusion reaction, but instead it is accelerated by on-board fusion reactions from fuel which the Starship already carries. A modification to this scheme might employ protons hitting a low atomic number target and then converting these to the required burn reactions for jet exhaust. Daniel Whitmire made a proposal in 1975 for a catalytic ramjet, which instead uses the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen cycle producing fusion at a higher rate than in the proton-proton chain associated with the direct collection of hydrogen. Aerospace engineers Dana Andrews and Robert Zubrin have also studied the interstellar ramjet in 1985. One of the first tasks of the Project Bussard Study Group will be to collect all of the references together and work through the previous results.

Members: Kelvin Long, Adam Crowl, Greg Matloff.

Key References:

  • Whitmore, D, Relatistic Spaceflight and the Catalytic Nuclear Ramjet, Acta Astronautica, 2, pp.497-509, 1975.
  • Bond, A. An Analysis of the Potential Performance of the Ram Augmented Interstellar Rocket, JBIS, 27, pp.674-685, 197
  • Martin, A.R, Magnetic Intake Limitations on Interstellar Ramjets,¬† Astronautica Acta, 18, pp.1-10, 1973.4.
  • Bussard, R.W, Galactic Matter & Interstellar Flight, Astronautica Acta, 6, pp.170-194, Fasc.4,1960.


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