Discover the revolutionary RocketStar engine, a nuclear jet rocket booster

Discover the revolutionary RocketStar engine, a nuclear jet rocket booster
Discover the revolutionary RocketStar engine, a nuclear jet rocket booster

Nuclear reaction to aid in rocket propulsion is not a new concept. The first tests were carried out in the 1960s by the Soviet Union. But the technology was then put aside for many years. Long shunned, it has never been so current.

The American company RocketStar has managed to demonstrate the efficiency of its FireStar Drive engine. This electric propulsion unit is intended to be revolutionary for the aerospace industry. In particular by integrating a nuclear reaction into its exhaust.

The secrets of carbon-12 atoms and their role in space propulsion

To function, RocketStar’s plasma jet engine uses water and boron. It all starts with the ionization of water vapor, generated by electricity. This will rip protons from the water molecules and throw them at high speed.

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Rocket world tour

These elementary particles will collide with boron atoms, creating an aneutronic nuclear fusion reaction (where the portion of energy released in the form of neutrons is minimal). This reaction transforms boron atoms into a high-energy form of carbon atom: carbon-12, notes New Atlas.

Highly unstable, carbon-12 disintegrates almost instantly into alpha particles and a beryllium nucleus which also decomposes to produce new alpha particles. It is their presence within the exhaust of the RocketStar engine which makes it possible to improve the thrust of their propellant by 50% compared to a version not integrating a nuclear reaction.

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Ground tests in 2024, space test for 2025

“RocketStar did not just incrementally improve a propulsion system, but took a leap forward by applying a new concept, creating a fusion-fission reaction in the exhaust”comments Adam Hecht, professor of nuclear engineering at the University of New Mexico, in a press release. “This is an exciting time for technology development, and I look forward to their future innovations.”

For his part, Chris Craddock, President of RocketStar, welcomed the good results of the first tests of his FireStar Drive engine. He also recalls that the initial idea for the project was written on a napkin, saying he was enthusiastic about the idea of ​​further improving his propellant thanks to the nuclear reaction.

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The plasma jet engine is scheduled to undergo another battery of ground tests later this year. A demonstration in space is planned for February 2025. The FireStar Drive will then be used as a payload on the Barry-2 spacecraft from the company Rogue Space System, which hopes to be able to use it in the future for its future missions.

This article was originally published on March 27.

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