Aussie Rocket Engine on ABC Catalyst This Thursday Night

MWest 1 August 2007 7
Helicon Double Layer Thruster in Operation

The Helicon Double Layer Thruster, developed by researchers at the Australian National University, will be featured on the ABC’s Catalyst program this Thursday evening, 2nd August, at 8pm EST (details here). The story will include interviews with Professor Rod Boswell and Dr Christine Charles and show footage of the HDLT prototype being tested in a new space simulation vacuum chamber at the ANU. The HDLT is a new Australian plasma rocket engine that has been tested in conjunction with the European Space Agency in 2005 (see SMH article here) and could be used aboard future communications satellites and spacecraft that travel to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

More details about the HDLT can be found at Space Plasma, Power & Propulsion Group’s website here. For those who are unable to see the program, a link to an online version of the Catalyst program will hopefully be available after the program has aired.

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7 Responses to Aussie Rocket Engine on ABC Catalyst This Thursday Night
MWest MWest 11:19 am 03 Aug 07

Update – For those interested a copy of the transcript of the interview can be found on the Catalyst website here.

neanderthalsis neanderthalsis 5:14 pm 02 Aug 07

There goes my plan for a rocket powered Red Rover.

MWest MWest 2:43 pm 02 Aug 07

Mess – I doubt it would be appropriate for the New Inventors. They tend to be interested in inventions that have commercial/consumer markets in mind. We are working with some commercial partners at the moment but as you can imagine spacecraft propulsion systems are very much a niche market.

Bonfire/Neanderthalsis – Yes, the HDLT will only work in a space vacuum. Under normal atmospheric conditions you need enormous of energy to ionize a gas to create plasma (like in lightning etc). Microgravity isn’t an issue though (and can’t be achieved easily on the Earth anyway – contrary to the movie Armageddon). No rocket engine’s operation is affected by gravity but how a spacecraft travels is definitely influenced by the gravity of planets and other objects in its vicinity – you need a rocket engine to escape the Earth’s gravitation influence or to stop you slamming into an object like the Moon when approaching it.

bonfire bonfire 1:49 pm 02 Aug 07

only in zero gravity/space vacuum

neanderthalsis neanderthalsis 9:30 am 02 Aug 07

The most important question is…..

Can it be modified to power a LandRover?

bonfire bonfire 9:06 am 02 Aug 07

there is a model of this at tidbinbilla space tracking station visitors centre.

they do great gourmet pies there too.

Mess Mess 12:22 am 02 Aug 07

Should go on the new inventors too

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