Preprint / Version 1

Nuclear Fusion Propulsion for Spacecraft: Background, Applications, and Impact


  • Mia Dungan Traverse City West Senioor High School



Nuclear Fusion, Aerospace, Propulsion, Physics, Plasma Physics, Climate Change, Ignition, Magnetic Reconnection, Spacecraft


As of 2022, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility in California achieved the world’s greatest nuclear fusion breakthrough, producing more energy in a fusion reaction than initially put in, opening up gateways to limitless clean energy in the years to come. However, a milestone like this could entail revolutionary advancement for propulsion systems in the aerospace industry. Historically, spacecraft have relied on traditional engine systems such as chemical propellants and ion engine thrusters (electric propulsion), but what if there was a way to integrate even cleaner and more efficient energy into these spacecraft systems? Nuclear fusion engines are just the answer. Through intricate mechanisms like electromagnet accelerators in plasma chambers and hydrogen refueling systems in space that will have an infinite supply of fuel for the fusion reactions, the notion of a fusion-based spacecraft has become more realistic. Achieving a fusion energy-based engine alternative would hypothetically alter space exploration, minimizing travel times due to unmatched engine thrust, and in turn, maximizing planetary and cosmic discovery. With zero CO2 emissions and harmless radiation bi-products, nuclear fusion energy harnesses the power to curb the path of climate change, fostering hope for a sustainable future.


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