Richard Dell on Space Fusion

Thetake home from this industry insider is that over unity fusion is likely tohappen in the next couple of years.  Iconcur for the same reasons.  This weeksdemonstration of twenty times unity will turn out to be a very useful form offusion energy but specifically limited to producing heat.  The forms we are referring to will producehigh energy plasma and an energy takeoff that is mostly electrical which is waymore flexible.

His focus here is to tap suchenergy to drive an impulse motor space craft. Recall that it is only necessary to sustain a one g thrust on a continuousbasis to go to the nearby stars on a long trip. However, the same system puts everything within the solar system a fewweeks away.  Thus a fusion reactor and aone g thruster rigged up as a space craft completely opens up the solar systemto us.

The image gives us some of thepresent design concepts.  I think that weneed a prime space lifter to haul components out of the gravity well and thateverything else must be assembled there. A fusion based lifter would make it practical.

It is great to see folks getting excited about space travel again.

JANUARY 05, 2011

Here is the Richard Dell Jr interview. Mr. Dell believes that he andhis team have developed a method for generating fusion power which isappropriate for providing the propulsion for exploring and colonizing space. Heis confident that this approach could lead to spacecraft capable of flying tothe moon and landing on it, and returning to earth usinga single craft without jettisoning any stages or equipment. This technologycould also be used to send humans to mars in only 2 months. His company, which is stilllargely in stealth mode, plans on generating short term revenue by selling moreefficient satellite maneuvering thrusters to the satellite industry. Mr. Dellis confident that breakeven fusion power generation will be demonstrated withinthe next 3 years.

Highlight answers from Mr Dell in this the interview: 

This technology will change everything. By 2020, we could be activelyimplementing commercial settlement and/or tourist expeditions to Mars.

2011 or 2012 will be the year of small scale fusion

This system will have ten times the propulsive thrust of a George Miley IECfusion propulsion proposal 

5 weeks to Mars with Helium 3 version of the fusion spaceship

In the 98 pager there is a description of being able to use the IEC in jet modefor propulsion. 

Way down the development path would be big fusion rockets like this

The ships that are designed 

IEC Fusion Ship I
500 MT
Isp =16,000
Thrust = 1028 Newtons

IEC Fusion Ship II
500 Mt
Isp = 35,000
Thrust = 4369 Newtons

But near term are progressively better propulsion units that start withsatellite maneuvering thrusters that are ten times better than today’s Hallthrusters.

IEC power units can be added in series to develop higher power units such asrequired for deep space propulsion -- Magnetically Channeled Spherical Array,MCSA

High Power Operation
Eliminates Grid Structure
Increase Energy Confinement Time

They are tuning the IEC configuration for space propulsion

If they pulse it up to several thousand amps then it is OK if IEC only hasscales by cubing the power instead of to the fifth power to get to 25Megawatts.

A 7page paper- Magnetically-Channeled SIEC Array (MCSA) Fusion Device forInterplanetary Missions

Question: Tell us about how you became involved with Dr. Miley

Answer: Several years back I was a Program Manager for a small, family ownedcompany. While I worked there I became very interested in developing an Advanced Aerospace Research Center and began to makecontact with a variety of physicists, technologists and foundations. The ArlingtonInstitute and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Austin introduced me to Dr. Miley, about fouryears ago this March. I am truly grateful to the principals of both of theseInstitutes and I confess that I owe them a debt of gratitude more than I couldpossible ever repay.

So, we all shared at least one thing in common, that the problem with a youngperson out in the middle of a cornfield in Indiana is the same problem for theyoung person in the slums of LA - they have had their frontier taken away fromthem. Think about that. Americahas always had a frontier. We lost it for a couple decades, it was given backto us briefly from ’69 to ’72 and then it disappeared again. It’s time to giveour young people back their frontier. They want it, they need it, it offers aneconomic engine of unparalleled capabilities for our young people and ourNation.

And so our little loosely organized group is focused on three areas, energy,the environment, and space. The thrust I’d prefer to discuss first is SPACE,the commercial development of manned and unmanned space technologies thatenable and expedite exploration and settlement of our Moon and Mars and to doso in this century. Let that sink in. This century. OK? So we hope to beginnext generation development of technologies that facilitate this objectiveusing intellectual property that stands the test and muster of our intellectualproperty analysis as well as showing feasibility in data and testing at thesame time. The combination of the two is the fulcrum.

98 page technical presentation from 2009 by George Miley 

There has been advances since the presentation but the solidity of thetechnical basis can be seen.

Question: In a minute I want to ask you more about your intellectual property,but first, tell me more about the device you call an LTV?

Answer: Lunar Transit Vehicle. Moon and back safely, carry six people plus twopilots/attendants or two pilots and a good bit of gear. Nothing new here,except the Miley IEC technology and hybrid of airbreathing MHD hybrid IEC isan application which we believe we can now amplify in terms of propulsivethrust by 10 times. We want to develop larger prototypes of fusion poweredpropulsion systems that would allow a single stage re-usable rocket/spacecraftto fly to and land on the moon, recover regolith samples, do valuable science, offer some entertaining tourist sights, andreturn to earth safely. We are confident that our aneutronic fusion spacepropulsion system could be a key factor in opening up space and creating athriving space industry. I’m actually hoping with this interview to get someattention from the folks I heard some kid describe recently as the “SpaceBarons”. Space-Barons, if you want the next stage of propulsion, if you wantseven or eight week flights to Mars, we are here and open for business.

Question: Where is the intellectual property coming from?

Answer: We have a commercialization agreement with Dr. George Miley and hisNuclear Plasma Laboratory organization known as NPL. Wecreated a joint venture to explore a novel form of liquid sodium borohydridefuel cell, and I am developing a program for IEC Propulsion. What we all wantto see is improvements in the Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC)prototypes as we build larger and better. We have been conducting extensive Rand D as well as doing commercialization assessments through our cooperativeefforts with M-CAM. The past four years of diligence on a variety ofspace-related energy technologies may soon pay off.

Question: What’s M-CAM?

Answer: Well, I mentioned intellectual property diligence before, and havinglearned the M-CAM system I am still quite utterly blown away when I try toimagine what it was like to do diligence on technology *AND* intellectualproperty assessment before this kind of capability was available. M-CAM takesall the voodoo out, and the best antiseptic is applied, complete illumination.Without the M-CAM team and their software, the past four years of diligence andgroundwork on a whole variety of space-related energy technologies could neverhave paid off.

Question: Back to the technology, how closely are you collaborating with Dr.Miley?

Answer: We have been working with him for the past four years, and we hold himin the highest regard. We have an extraordinary working relationship with him,and now that Bussard has passed away, Dr. Miley needs to be the pivotal figurefor aneutronic fusion propulsion research. George is trying to create a fusionprogram that burns aneutronically, without magnets, and that burns a relativelyinexpensive fuel. This is what we need to get to Mars and back in less than twomonths, and with some excellent inherent shielding of 99% of cosmic radiation.Shielding can deal with the 1% we can’t filter out, the worst of the stuff, themetallic ions.

Question: What are the main technologies that you are developing?

Answer: There are two primary technologies that George’s people are developing.They are modifying current IEC designs to increase plasma flow and pressure. Theyare also developing a novel form of airbreathing hypersonic spaceplane with anIEC. This is called airbreathing MHD-IEC hybrid. The other is an injection ofIEC with a unique device to enable a vehicle to do a horizontal liftoff andthen proceed to LEO. By using these two technologies, we can develop a highlyefficient single-stage-to-orbit vehicle that can operate both within andoutside of the atmosphere. It could lift off from earth, land on the moon andcome back, without jettisoning any stages or equipment. This work is beyond thetheoretical and is now solidly in the realm of applied practical science.

Question: What fuel source will this fusion drive consume?

Answer: Initially it will use Proton-Boron 11. The ideal fusion fuel isHelium 3, which is found in abundance on the moon. PB11 is nearly as good, andrequires minimal shielding from radiation. So we will initially use PB11,and switch to HE3 when it becomes available, or when the Russians let us havemore, hahaha.

Question: You’re joking about the Russians, right?

Answer: ‘Not at all’, or perhaps ‘yes and no’ would have been better. The‘rumor on the street’ to explain why the Russians took He3 off the market isbecause they have an He3 reactor, big project…a project incidentally I would haveliked to see take root in Southwest Virginia.

Question: OK, back to Space, what are the size and weight parameters of thisproposed fusion powered spacecraft?

Answer: It is all very preliminary, so I can only provide ballpark estimates.George did some incredible simulation work to lay out the metrics, publishedthem over 15 years ago, btw. So imagine a 500 metric ton spacecraft outfittedwith a certain number of IEC fusion propulsion devices. With PB11 fuel, itcould lift off from earth, and reach Mars in eight weeks or less. Using HE3fuel, it could get to Mars in only five weeks. These reactors would be smallenough to be placed on a spacecraft the size of a standard commercial jet.

Question: How much funding is your program receiving? When will the firstprototype IEC drives be unveiled?

Answer: Both of those questions involve proprietary knowledge which I am notinterested in doing in this interview. I can, say, however, that all of ourfunding is from private sources - we aren't currently looking for anyGovernment funding. We have been informally working on this for the past fouryears, and we hope to be going public with more details in mid 2011.

Question: Are you collaborating with any other fusion groups, such as EMC2 orGeneral Fusion?

Answer: Developing partnerships and closing on funding agreements is where weare. We are interested in creating entrepreneurial partnerships which play tothe key values of our strategy. and bring more business to our company, whilesupporting efforts that move and advance our technology and commercializationcapabilities. So we are open to collaborating with other companies and we wishthe groups you referred to the very best of luck in 2011.

Question: How will your company generate revenue in the short term?

Answer: Current satellites maneuver based on Hall thrusters, whichare ion thrusters capable of providing small amounts of thrust. Dr. Miley hasdeveloped a new propulsion technique that provides an ultra-maneuverablethruster that can provide an order of magnitude more thrust than an equivalentHall thruster. We see strong short term Return On Investment (ROI) by sellingthis thruster to the satellite industry.

Question: When will we see breakeven fusion power generation?

Answer: We are confident that breakeven will be demonstrated within the next 24to 36 months by someone. I predict that 2011 or at the very least, 2012 will beremembered as the "year of small scale fusion"- there are just waytoo many people building fusors out there and for those who would prefer tokeep the djini in the bottle, sorry, but it’s bound to happen, and it surelooks to many of us that it could be sooner than anyone expects.

Question: How long will the research phase continue?

Answer: This project will be over 5-7 years, but will see economic returns waybefore the program is finished. We’re looking for the two year returns, not thethree year returns. This will be primarily servicing the small satellite sectorinitially, unless we can wake one of the Space-Barons out of their “chemical-enginehypnosis”. But ultimately this will be geared for deep space capabilities withmanned missions within the solar system.

Question: Will this system be safe? Are there any radiation issues with thesesystems?

Answer: To call these systems minimally radioactive is a disservice. Lessradiation will be generated than exists in background space. These systems arecompletely safe. When I first became acquainted with these technologies almostfive years ago I first asked what were the implications in terms of counter-terrorismand I was delighted to find that all IECs work basically the same, ifcontainment is lost, it is like blowing out a candle. It would be moredangerous to blow up a refrigerator than one of our reactors.

Question: How will this technology change the world in the next decade?

Answer: This technology will change everything. By 2020, we could be activelyimplementing commercial settlement and/or tourist expeditions to Mars. There isno silver bullet for jump-starting the commercial space industry except fusion.The demand for Space is there, we’ve all seen it. We are confident that withina decade we will have developed all of the infrastructure and commercialbreakthroughs necessary to enable the rapid manned occupation of the Moon andMars.

Question: How can someone get in contact with you to discuss this program?

Answer: I would prefer to receive email on this topic to my home email address,so you can publish the following : omega dot arimathea at gmail dot com.

Ad astra!

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