Debunking Antimatter Rockets for Interstellar Travel

Previous Post in this Debunking Series.

Why is it necessary to debunk bad or unrealistic technologies? If don’t we live in a dream world idealized by theoretical engineering that has no hope of ever becoming financially feasible. What a waste of money, human resources and talent. I’d rather we know now upfront and channel our energies to finding feasible engineering and financial solutions. Wouldn’t you?

We did the math required to figure out the cost of antimatter fuel one would require just to reach 0.1c and then cost at that velocity, never mind about reaching Alpha Centauri.

Table 2: Antimatter Rocket Fuel Costs to Alpha Centuariat 0.1c (in metric   tons)
Source of Estimates Amount of Antimatter Required Maximum Velocity

Spacecraft Mass

Cost   of Antimatter per kg

(metric tons) (metric tons)

Gerald Smith

NASA

2.5E+16

6.25E+16

Total $ Cost of Fuel for Trip

A Poor Formula for Interstellar Travel

5

0.1c

2,000

1.25E+20

3.13E+20

Project Valkyrie

100

0.1c

100

2.5E+21

6.25E+21

The table above compiled from various sources shows that the cheapest cost of just reaching 0.1c velocity is of the order of $125,000,000,000,000,000,000. This so unthinkably large even I don’t know how to conceptualize it, and by comparison, conventional rockets appear realistic!

Also note that the large variations in the estimates of the amount of antimatter required combined with the larger variations in the mass of the spacecraft antimatter engines could propel. That is no one reallys has a handle on what this would take.

But wait, let me quote EJ Opik, “Is Interstellar Travel Possible?” Irish Astronomical Journal, Vol 6, page 299.

The exhaust power of the antimatter rocket would equal the solar energy power received by the earth – all in gamma rays (and Opik quotes Carl Sagan, Planet. Space Sci., pp. 485-498, 1963) “So the problem is not to shield the payload, the problem is to shield the earth

I don’t need to say more. Debunked.

Next post in the Debunking Series.

—————————————————————————————————

Benjamin T Solomon is the author & principal investigator of the 12-year study into the theoretical & technological feasibility of gravitation modification, titled An Introduction to Gravity Modification, to achieve interstellar travel in our lifetimes. For more information visit iSETI LLC, Interstellar Space Exploration Technology Initiative.

Solomon is inviting all serious participants to his LinkedIn Group Interstellar Travel & Gravity Modification.

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About Benjamin Solomon
Ben Solomon is a Committee Member of the Nuclear and Future Flight Propulsion Technical Committee, American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA), and author of An Introduction to Gravity Modification and Super Physics for Super Technologies: Replacing Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger & Einstein (with Kindle Version)

8 Responses to Debunking Antimatter Rockets for Interstellar Travel

  1. Pingback: How do you debunk this? « iSETI

  2. Pingback: The Kline Directive: Economic Viability « iSETI

  3. erkle says:

    The bogus part of your analysis is this:
    Your cost of antimatter reflects the cost of making antimatter using particle accelerators on Earth.
    At some point we will have a Lunar base.
    That coupled with a mass driver makes constructing huge and powerful particle accelerators in space (already a vacuum!) incredibly cheap (just hang some coils of wire in space basically!).
    Cheap and huge particle accelerators could be dropped into low solar orbit (say a few million miles from the surface of the sun). At those distances the ambient temperature of 1000K-3000K allow a number of very inexpensive materials (slightly doped silicon for example) to be used for photo-thermo-electric power conversion, converting the huge solar flux available in low solar orbit into an almost unimaginable amount of electric power. Even with the inefficiencies of converting electric power to antimatter,(the inefficiency significantly reduced btw by using counterrotating beams, particle capture and beam reintegration techniques) a significant amount of antimatter (tons per year!) could be generated using a startlingly small amount of lunar material (aluminum for the wires, titanium and silicon for the structure and power conversion devices). Basically the mass of a medium sized space ship in low solar orbit (if reconstructed as a particle accelerator and photo voltaic array optimized to work using the intense solar flux) would provide all the antimatter you would need for interstellar travel.

  4. Obviously, you speak out of ignorance, and are not aware of the work of the CERN Senior Scientist, John Eades. People like you are unable to differentiate between real engineering and dreaming.

  5. erkle says:

    You need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

    Of COURSE antimatter produced on Earth (e.g. @CERN) is astronomically expensive.

    On Earth vacuum is expensive as are large structures.
    Also energy is nowhere as cheap and available as it is in low solar orbit.

    In space 1) the marginal cost of vacuum = 0,
    2) the cost of large structures is minimal.
    3) the power available in low solar orbit is immense
    4) the high temperatures allow a huge variety of cheap materials to function as semiconductors (i.e. cheap conversion of the abundant sunlight directly to electricity to power a particle accelerator).

    A particle accelerator and particle storage ring in space are basically a set of wire coils hanging in space. Probably the cheapest device you could imagine building in space is a particle accelerator/particle storage ring.

    Costs are not fixed, they depend on technology and availability of resources, Example: the top of the Washington monument was made out of a very expensive and exotic material which cost (c 1880) more than pure silver. The material?: Aluminum! I can see you back in the 1880’s telling someone proposing to build airplanes out of aluminum that “you are unable to differentiate between real engineering and dreaming”. Yet shortly thereafter, a cheaper electrolytic process made the material cheap enough to wrap sandwiches with!

    A straightforward analysis of 1) how you make antimatter, 2) what space is made out of (i.e. vacuum) leads one to the conclusion for an enormous reduction in price for the cost of antimatter once we have a significant presence in space (i.e. a Lunar base).

    Nothing I propose in my post requires any technology that has not been demonstrated.

    On the other hand “proprietary electrical circuits that change weight”???

    Please spare me the lecture on “dreaming” when you are basing your proposals on garbage such as this.

    Crank physics is not going to revolutionize space travel.

    There are dozens of scammers with “new physics” involving “electrical devices” that have some sort of proposed “antigravity” effect. None of these things work. Indeed antigravity (i.e. negative mass) would allow you to build a perpetual motion machine which in turn is a violation of the laws of physics.

    Having reviewed dozens of such proposals I can tell you, NONE of these schemes has ever been demonstrated to work in any independent study.

    If it is antigravity, especially if it involves some sort of classical “electrical device” or “magnet” or “spinning rotor” and is “secret”: and/or “proprietary” you can count on it being a scam.

    It is quite frankly the modern version of the perpetual motion machine.

    • Your ignorance is showing, and you don’t know it. I’m not going to waste my time with you. In future I will delete your comments.

      • NL says:

        @ Benjamin Solomon: erkle makes some very compelling arguments about the future feasibility of antimatter production. The fact that you have wasted your time by typing “I’m not going to waste my time with you” and threating to delete erkle’s response rather than providing a well-structured rebuttal suggests that you do not have a good rebuttal. Now, you may have some excellent reasons to believe that antimatter production will not be feasible in the future; if you do, then why not share them? In the interest of knowledge and science you should be motivated to engage in constructive exchanges of opinions and information so that everyone can improve their thinking.

        Simply creating a table of antimatter production costs using current technology and saying that because the current price tag of $125,000,000,000,000,000,000 is so unthinkable that we should give up now is an argument I would expect from a 6th grade student. It’s an argument akin to being a computer scientist in the 1950s and tabulating the cost of producing something with the computing power of an iPad2 at $1,000,000,000,000 (http://www.hamiltonproject.org/multimedia/charts/cost_of_computing_power_equal_to_an_ipad2/) and thus giving up on improvements. Please don’t make that same logical mistake, technology is rarely linear.

        I challenge you to construct a well thought out response to erkle’s points so that we all may learn something.

  6. trax0r says:

    I couldn’t of said it better NL and Erkle The first thing I thought when it read this post, was how ridiculous his cost estimate was. I knew it had to be based on ‘Current Cost’ estimates of anti-matter production. Which it is just plain stupid and bad science to estimate future cost estimates on current or old data. As you guys said, technology pretty much NEVER advances linearly. Check out Ray Kurzweils Law of Accelerating return. If it the technology developed linearly, it still would not cost that exuberant figure. I also agree with NL on you responses to erkle. First time I have read your blog, but I expected better from a seemingly intelligent and educated individual. Threating to delete any comments you don’t agree with, particularly well thought out and extensive rebuttals is just pathetic to be honest. Try answering with a legitimate response, instead of just name calling and threats. Stop being a child. I guess time will tell if you even let this post through, or censor it

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