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New Microwave Thermal Rocket Forum

Posted by: Kevin Parkin - Sat Dec 10, 2005 6:51 am
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New Microwave Thermal Rocket Forum 
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Launch Director
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Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 4:39 am
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Location: Pasadena, CA, USA
Post New Microwave Thermal Rocket Forum   Posted on: Sat Dec 10, 2005 6:51 am
A very warm welcome to the new Microwave Thermal Rocket Forum; the first student project forum on

In 1924 K.E. Tsiolkovsky wrote:

Lastly, there is a third and most attractive method of acquiring velocity. This consists in the transmission of energy from the outside, from Earth.

The projectile itself need not carry “material” energy, i.e., extra weight, in the form of explosives or fuel. This energy could be transmitted to it from the planet in the form of a parallel beam of shortwave electromagnetic rays.

…This method of imparting velocity raises quite a few difficult problems, the solution of which I shall leave to the future.

Over the past 40 years the time average power output of high power microwave sources in the millimeter wavelength range has increased by over six orders of magnitude, for the first time putting Tsiolkovsky's vision within economic reach using gyrotron technology.

The microwave thermal rocket I suggested in 2003 as a specific way to implement this idea. Here is a snapshot of the present concept alongside some initial performance estimates:


As a Graduate Student at Caltech, my PhD thesis is this concept. It is evolving, along with the performance estimates, and I am in the process of computer modeling and experimentally demonstrating microwave thermal propulsion at small scale for the first time:


This forum is the sum of everyone's input and will be whatever we make it. I will post updates as and when possible, and as always questions, feedback and considered criticism are welcome.

Discuss. Enjoy!

Kevin Parkin

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Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:56 am
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Location: Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA
Post    Posted on: Sat Dec 10, 2005 5:41 pm
Ah, Tsiolkovsky. If only somebody'd believed him (and, somehow, materials science had jumped ahead a few decades), we'd be working on interstellar systems now, not orbital ones.

Anyway, congratulations on the founding of your new forum, and I look forward to watching your research progress.

I'm an AE Sophomore at Georgia Tech, and I've already made quite a few contacts in our AE department here, so let me know if you need anything from Atlanta.

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering

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Apollo I - Soyuz I - Soyuz XI - STS-51L - STS-107

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