Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Artificial Gravity Via Plasma Rockets?

SpaceToys.com Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
(Hat Tip: The Astronomy Blog, Image Credit: Space.com)

Despite the fact that science fiction shows depict every space faring craft with artificial gravity, the harsh reality is that unless we are on a moon, planet or oribital space station, we may have to suffer the wrath of micro gravity.

However, not-so-distant technology may help humanity not only shorten the time between worlds, but provide a little resistance to our bones and muscles as well.

(New Scientists) The engine works by stripping electrons from hydrogen atoms and accelerating the resulting plasma in an electric field. Expelling the plasma out of the back of the engine generates thrust. The technique is known as Variable Specific-Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) technology, and was conceived in the 1970s. [...]

Unlike conventional rockets which generate all their thrust in the first few minutes of a mission and then coast to their destination, a VASIMR engine accelerates continuously.

This reduces journey times, and could also provide a low level of artificial gravity for astronauts. It has been suggested that the hydrogen fuel, which is common throughout the universe, could be harvested en route.

Plasma rockets are still in their infancy and this specific breed is probably two decades away (at its earliest) from entering the market. Scientists still have to figure out how to keep the engine from overheating (as plasma is a "little warm") although they are confident in its future development.

Creating artificial gravity via thrust could go a long ways to making space practical for the human body, ensuring our species is actually strong enough physically to land on other worlds.

Want more space geek news? Then subscribe below via email, RSS or twitter for free updates!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Prefer another service? How about via RSS or follow Colony Worlds on Twitter!


  1. Attach 10 newton VASIMR thrusters to a pair of 45 metric ton cabins connected by a 2 km cable and Earth normal gravity can be generated. It takes just over 5 days to spin the system up.

  2. Dear Fellow Scientist,

    NASA's rocket technology not for real space exploration but here is one.

    Sir, don't be dismayed to see how little information there is on the internet. Despite that, I hope you totally understand my need for anonymity. Assuming that the technology is as effective as I say it is, releasing it to the public in all its splendor could make the world think that a) I am off my rocker, b) that I'm completely wrong or c) just some sci-fi aficionado who's gone a bit too far.

    Sad state of affairs, but hey, that's the price of true innovation right?



    The Inventor


You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

Note: You do not need a Blogger account in order to comment, but you do need to solve the universal puzzle below.