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SMPritchard's avatar

RAIR - Ramscoop Field

Here, the massive ramscoop itself is made visible. Because the volume of space necessary to scoop up usable amounts of the interstellar medium is so vast (10e18 m^3), a physical scoop would be impractical. Instead, a scoop made of electrostatic fields gathers up hydrogen atoms ionized by an array of ultraviolet lasers.
RAIRs carry their own fuel, usually Deuterium and Helium-3 (Catalyzed RAIRs will also carry antimatter), but not their own reaction mass. This they gather from the space around them in the form of interstellar Hydrogen. The fusion engine is used to boost the RAIR up to speed, where it then can start gathering Hydrogen. The hydrogen is then accelerated towards a target of Lithium or Boron to initiate a fusion reaction (Boron-proton and Lithium-proton fusion are much easier and more energetic than proton-proton fusion), adding more energy to the mass stream flowing out the back of the reactor. Catalyzed RAIRs inject antimatter into the stream, tremendously increasing the amount of energy inside it for a more efficient reaction. The only drawback is that it requires large quantities of antimatter.
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If and only if Magnetic Monopoles are a thing you could use them to create a total conversion drive to make the RAIR a true Ramjet.

BrutalityInc's avatar
Unfortunately, according to what I read online the Ramscoop idea, while decent, ultimately couldn't work in this neighborhood - apparently the Solar System is in a region of space hundreds of light years across that have a lower than usual amount of interstellar hydrogen (around 10% of normal) due to a supernova that occurred in the ancient past. 
imachrismoose's avatar
Actually, the Solar System is a mere two light years across. Are you thinking of the local stellar neighborhood? If so, then you are correct. Our stellar neighborhood does have a lower amount of interstellar hydrogen than normal, making the Bussard Ramjet infeasible.
BrutalityInc's avatar
Yeah, that's what I said. 
Sagittarius-A-star's avatar
Haha, a RAIR starship. :) I remember reading about this in The Starflight Handbook- too bad that the ion scoops are such an engineering challenge, and we aren't really so sure of exactly how much there is in interstellar space to scoop up, from what I have read. More work must be done, scooping up free fuel (or at least reaction mass) is too good an idea to give up without a fight...
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Good visualization of the field. Good, practical design work!
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