Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Australian Plasma Engine Inventor Expounds on the HDLT

Previously on SpaceBlog Alpha, we reported on an exciting new plasma engine concept being researched by the European Space Agency(ESA), and their work with the Helicon Double Layer Thruster(HDLT) technology as a basis for this continuing development.

In a recent interview with Universe Today, HDLT inventor Dr. Christine Charles of the Australian National University(ANU) gives some insight into the HDLT itself and speaks of potential applications for this type of technology. She also provides some background on the direction the research has taken - such as the story behind their collaboration with the ESA- and hints at what to expect in the future. Check out the full transcript of the interview here, or download the audio in mp3 format.

Highlights include:
-Even at this early stage of development, plasma engine technology shows extraordinary promise as a superior method for spaceship propulsion.
-The fuel efficiency for this type of propulsion would be a tremendous improvement over ion engines and other conventional means.
-The inherent design simplicity would increase safety and reliability over current technologies by several magnitudes.
-A major improvement in scalability over ion engines will allow for larger launch craft and greater speed as the technology matures, allowing for quicker and more direct flights to places such as Mars.

We will definitely stay dialed in to both the ANU and ESA teams for future developments of this ground-breaking plasma propulsion technology, and of course keep you updated on the latest as it happens.

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