NASA's Kepler Telescope has spotted thousands of exoplanets – worlds outside our solar system – this year alone. Tantalizing hopes for finding alien life or habitable planets for future colonization. However, ambitions of exploring these planets are being frustrated due to the enormous distances involved. NASA contractor Princeton Satellite Systems Developing its nuclear fusion space engine
Nuclear fusion is a nuclear fusion project to produce energy.
Dr. Michael Paluszek, President of Princeton Satellite Systems
The process powers the
Replica fusion to harness its unimaginable power has long been thought to be a pipe dream, but Dr Michael Paluszek, president of NASA contractor Princeton Satellite Systems is confident its direct fusion drive will soon fuel interstellar space travel.
He told Express.co.uk: "The Sun uses gravity to trigger fusion by compressing the atom together."
"We use magnetic fields t o provide the confinement and we heat externally with radio-frequency waves.
"And you then get fusion, which can be used as additional propellent, which is entered into the chamber and exits from a nozzle to produce thrust."
Nuclear fusion drive: Nuclear fusion engine: One nuclear fusion engine is looking at the interstellar space
And a nine-year trip to Pluto would just take five years, say the researchers.
The direct fusion drive wants to be capable of carrying payloads between 500-1,000kg or more r or outer solar system.
Stephanie Thomas, the company's vice president adds the direct fusion drive is not only useful for its speed.
She said: "Our payload would be between 500-1,000kg or more, which could
" You can do many things with your payload, including mining and drilling asteroids.
"The nuclear fusion system could also be used for generating power on the Moon or Mars."
"So it is not just where you can go which is different, it is the mission you are bringing with you that is different . "
Nuclear fusion" title = "Nuclear fusion" data- "1965-1896" Fusion technology could be used on earth in remote areas and in emergencies and the direct fusion drive could be capable of generating 10 megawatts of energy.
Nuclear fusion offers tantalizing benefits to other next-generation technologies He said, "We do know solar sails work, because I used to work on communication satellites and we had to deal with solar pressure pushing ours satellite around.
"Solar sails are a very significant technology, but they are only really going to be useful in the inner solar system."
"So if you wanted to travel to Neptune or Pluto, solar sails are not going to be terribly useful, as you can not slow down.
"Another big disadvantage is building solar sails big enough is reall y hard.
"One of the most costly sunsets in the world."
One way to help spaceships slow down features "huge laser", But the technology is still theoretical.
Dr Paluszek said: "The idea of building a laser with a big aperture and the aperture is too large, because the diffraction limits are based on the aperture size and the smaller the aperture, the bigger than the spread.
"So to get enough power to get to Pluto, you would need a big enough aperture, which would allow the spacecraft to slow down."
Nuclear fission plants generating electricity is anther technology of interest.
NASA to build nuclear fission plants capable of flying in space but without too mu ch success.
Dr Paluszek explained:
"And a related issue is that you have to carry a lot of shielding, which would be quite heavy.
"This means its power-to-weight ratio for traveling within the solar system is actually quite low – rather than using a solar sail."