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Selenian Boondocks

More EGT Musings: ISRU Propellants

24 May 2015, 06:50 UTC
More EGT Musings: ISRU Propellants
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

One of the ideas I had been thinking of blogging about was the thought of augmenting EGT asteroid deflection with in-situ derived propellants. The gravitation attraction force is usually the bottleneck in how fast you can do an asteroid deflection, but in some situations the propellant load might matter too.
What options are there for ISRU propellants in this case?

If the asteroid is a carbonaceous chondrite, water might be your best bet. There are some promising SEP technologies, like the ELF thrusters being developed by MSNW that can operate efficiently with water as the propellant. The challenge is that water is only present in some asteroids, might not be super easy to extract, and might require enough infrastructure to not be worth it on net.
The other big option is asteroid regolith. This could be charged up and run in a similar manner to an electrospray engine, or if it the dust is magnetically susceptible, it could be accelerated by something similar to a coil gun, mass driver, or linear accelerator. One of my employees used to work at a LASP lab running a dusty plasma accelerator. Basically they’d charge up small particles of dust, put them in a ...

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