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back to article Plasma drive starts with pee

The Australian National University is preparing to build a plasma drive test facility on the back of an $AU4 million funding injection (No, I’m not going to explain the headline yet). The facility, to be built at the Mount Stromolo observatory, will create a “space-ready” test-bed for a plasma drive designed at the ANU’s Space …

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Pint

Optional

All the more reason for experimenting with micro-brewing in microgravity... now there is a way to reuse the by-products!

Some of them anyway.

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Hmmmmm

Methinks they will be taking the piss......

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Silver badge
Coat

Ground Control, we're losing altitude!

This is Ground Control; go piss in the (solar) wind!

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Gold badge

One disadvantage..

The presence of urine means life forms - and if you slowly leak away (sorry) the available resources they will eventually end up dead forms..

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Childcatcher

That reminds me...

.. of the moment in Back to the Future when Doc arrives back to the present in the now hovering Delorian and tips anything he can find into the Westinghouse fusion power unit. Oh yes, and it works.

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Whole new meaning for the phrase

Piss off.

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Alien

Rod Boswell??????

An anagram surely? Roswell Bod!!!!! Ahhhh, it's alien tech, quick, get my tinfoil hat!!!!!!!

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"space simulation chamber"

I hope that most of the budget goes on glow in the dark stars.

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IT Angle

Heart of Gold

-en shower

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Mushroom

Optional

Bob Shaw

Urin-8

That is all

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Joke

Plasma drive eh?

Whats the storage capacity of these things?

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Joke

the stuff ends up with a pH of about one? What on earth have they been drinking?

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What they are drinking is...

Their reprocessed piss from last week (probably a cocktail (fnar) of everyones on board)

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what the

So what kind of real world (well, real space) scenarios could this lead to?

Are we talking pro-longing the life of satellites by allowing for greater manoeuvring? Or are we saying this could lead to interstellar travelling?

My (very limited) understanding of a plasma drive is whilst it doesn’t have the same push as propellants it can push for a dam sight longer allowing faster speeds over longer distances. That be right yes?

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Re: what the

Yes, the mass exiting the exhaust is tiny (allowing for longer 'burns' with less propellant) but going at a much higher velocity than a chemical rocket so allowing the ion drive to continue to accelerate to a higher speed

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re: What the

Well, that depends on how powerful this drive is compared to other plasma drives already out there. The fact that it can use almost anything for fuel gives it a big advantage though. If you have to choose between using water or xenon for reaction mass, the former is considerably cheaper and easier to store in bulk quantities. The only reason not to use it is because mono-atomic hydrogen and oxygen have a tendency to eat almost anything they come into contact with over time.

I suspect this drive will mainly be used for station keeping and limited manoeuvring of stations, since it allows them to use what would otherwise be waste products. Conversely, most long range starships would probably have sufficient recycling in place that there wouldn't be any waste products to launch out the back if at all possible.

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Boffin

Could Richard Chirgwin kindly ask Professor Boswell

what he meant by the following remark : «In the International Space Station, there’s a system that extracts water from urine, known as the ‘Russian piss-presser’. The result ends up with a pH around one – we could easily use that.» ? Does he mean by «result» - the water that has been extracted ? If, indeed, it has a pH «around one», it would seem unlikely that passengers on the space station (which is hardly «international», as the US vetoes Chinese participation) would survive imbibing it. Or is he referring to the residue that is left after the apparatus extracts the water it can from passengers' urine ?...

Henri

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Re: Could Richard Chirgwin kindly ask Professor Boswell

He's referring to the by-product that's left over in the reaction. If he was referring to the water itself, the poor astronauts would have to die of dehydration just to keep the plasma drive up and running, which seems a touch harsh.

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Alien

It's bad enough here...

but now we can piss all over the universe ? How long do we have before an alien race exterminates us for a lack of common courtesy ? "WE DON'T FLY AROUND IN YOUR TOILET - PLEASE DON'T PISS ON OUR UNIVERSE".

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