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Antimatter sailing ships

20 Sep 2019, 09:11 UTC
Antimatter sailing ships
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Ejected from their force field containment, antimatter particles would be sprayed towards the rigid sail, made out of carbon fibre and then coated on the inside with uranium as fission fuel for the propulsion system. Image credit: All About Space/Adrian Mann
The major limitation on space travel is energy. Spectacular rocket launches demonstrate how much energy is needed just to make the first step into space. To travel elsewhere in the Solar System takes even more; with present propulsion technology spacecraft coast around the planets on long minimum energy trajectories. For human spaceflight this means months or years of travel in cramped conditions, exposed to microgravity and cosmic radiation. If we had a way of storing more energy we could build something approaching the large, fast, comfortable spacecraft of science fiction. Interstellar travel will require even more energy and the most compact form of energy we know of is antimatter. Probably best known from its fictional use as the energy source of the Enterprise in Star Trek, but antimatter is a real substance.
Matter is composed of subatomic particles such as neutrally charged neutrons, positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons. Antimatter is the same stuff, but the charges are ...

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