Pellet-Beam Propulsion System

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Pellet-Beam Propulsion System Blog Image


A newly proposed propulsion system of NASA could theoretically beam a heavy spacecraft outside the confines of our Solar System in less than 5 years. Pellet-Beam Propulsion System

About Pellet-Beam Propulsion System:

  • The pellet-beam concept was partly inspired by the Breakthrough Starshot initiative, which is working on a 'light-sail' propulsion system.
  • This system requires two spacecraft – one that sets off for interstellar space, and one that goes into orbit around Earth.
  • The spacecraft orbiting Earth would shoot a beam of tiny microscopic particles at the interstellar spacecraft.
  • Those particles would be heated up by lasers, causing part of them to melt into plasma that accelerates the pellets further, a process known as laser ablation.
  • Those pellets could reach 120 km/second (75 miles/second) and either hit the sail of the interstellar spacecraft or repel a magnet within it, helping to propel the spacecraft to huge speeds that would let it whizz out of our heliosphere – the bubble of the solar wind around our Solar System.
  • This proposal examines a new propulsion architecture for fast transit of heavy (1 ton and more) payloads across the Solar System and to the interstellar medium.


Q1) What is a propulsion system?

Propulsion means to push forward or drive an object forward. A propulsion system is a machine that produces thrust to push an object forward. On airplanes, thrust is usually generated through some application of Newton's third law of action and reaction. 

Source: Radical NASA Propulsion Concept Could Reach Interstellar Space in Under 5 Years