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Smaller, cheaper, safer: The next generation of nuclear power, explained
The Helicity Drive concept is a novel magneto-inertial fusion concept designed for a fusion space propulsion system. It has promising Lawson criterion performance scaling with input geometry resulting in power output that is uniquely scalable across thrust power classes (10s kW to GW levels) at high specific power. It exploits magnetic reconnection as a fast, high-power ion heating mechanism; natural plasma self-organization as a robust, stable confinement scheme; and passive magnetic compression at modest ratios to reduce overall engineering complexity.
They have received funding from the Limitless Space Institute (part of the Breakthrough Initiative). The work is being done at Caltech with partnership with Lawrence Livermore and other institutions.
– they believe a near-term capability would be two month travel time to Mars.
– They modeled four classes of ships with travel in one year from 26 AU to 211 AU for a 5-ton ship
– A constant acceleration would enable a 117 year flyby of Proxima Centauri
– They would have ships that are far lighter than other fusion propulsion concepts.