Ms. Thomas is vice president of Princeton Satellite Systems. She is the Principal Investigator for the NASA NIAC grant supporting Direct Fusion Drive. Ms. Thomas has been with PSS since her first internship as an MIT undergraduate in 1996!
We will be at the 2022 ARPA-E Summit in Denver, CO next week – May 23 to 25 – representing our two ARPA-E programs, WIDE BAND GAP SEMICONDUCTOR AMPLIFIERS FOR PLASMA HEATING AND CONTROL and Next-Generation PFRC. The post on our Princeton Fusion Systems website has links to our marketing and technical documents:
Our ARPA-E funding has allowed us to increase the magnetic field and RF power in the PFRC-2 experiment in pursuit of hotter plasma, a key precursor to demonstrating the conditions needed for Direct Fusion Drive!
Our aerospace theory textbook, Spacecraft Attitude and Orbit Control, has been included with purchases of the Spacecraft Control Toolbox for years and available for purchase as a standalone PDF. We have now compiled our book as an eBook and it is available from Barnes and Noble for Nook:
The recordings of this webinar from February 15-16, 2022, are now available on YouTube. Each segment is two hours long. Ms. Thomas’ presentation is in Part 2 at about 30:30.
Organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), this webinar focuses on nuclear systems for space exploration. It gives an overview and historical perspective on the status of development in this area and showcases the ways in which nuclear systems can be used for space exploration, as well as discuss possible future innovations in the field.
Part 1 Agenda:
Progress towards space nuclear power objectives | Mr Vivek Lall (General Atomics Global Corporation)
Developing the VASIMR® Engine Historical Perspective, Present Status and Future Plans | Mr Franklin R. Chang Díaz (Ad Astra Rocket Company)
Application of Space Nuclear Power Sources in Moon and Deep Space Exploration Missions in China | Mr Hui Du (Beijing Institute of Spacecraft System Engineering)
Part 2 Agenda:
Promises and Challenges of Nuclear Propulsion for Space Travel | Mr William J Emrich (NASA)
Fusion Propulsion and Power for Advanced Space Missions | Ms Stephanie Thomas (Princeton Satellite Systems) – at time 30:30
NASA Investments in Space Nuclear Fission Technology | Mr Anthony Calomino (NASA)
This webinar hosted by the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is coming up this week, Feb. 15-16, 2022.
The exploration of space requires power at many stages, not only for the initial launch of the space vehicle, but also for various house loads such as instrumentation and controls, communication systems, maintaining the operating environment for the space mission’s essential hardware, etc. Nuclear can provide long-term electrical power in space. Nuclear systems can be configured in several ways for use in space exploration.
Atoms for Space: Nuclear Systems for Space Exploration
PSS VP Stephanie Thomas will give a talk during this webinar, Fusion Propulsion and Power for Advanced Space Missions.
People from all over the country called and emailed in their questions about fusion and fusion-propelled spaceflight, and we had a great discussion! David has been running this educational program for 20 years and there are almost 4000 archived episodes covering a wide range of space topics. Author David Brin, whom I met during my NASA NIAC fellowship, is going to be on next week!
So have listen and add to the conversation on The Space Show website!
The Space subcommittee of the Fusion Industry Association, of which we are a member, has prepared a new white paper recommending government funding for a dedicated fusion propulsion development program, styled similarly to ARPA-E and DARPA.
The next space race is not simply into orbit; it is to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The global competition is fierce, and the stakes are high—from landing the first humans on Mars to harvesting the limitless wealth of asteroids, and much more. Fusion propulsion is the best path to winning this “Deep Space Race.”
Fusion Energy for Space Propulsion, FIA, June 2021
The goal is to provide funding not just for “paper studies,” but enough funding to build real hardware and start to test fusion propulsion concepts. We want the US to remain competitive in the upcoming Deep Space Race – building a human presence on the Moon, and then Mars, and beyond. Direct Fusion Drive is directly applicable to near-term, modestly sized fusion propulsion!
If you want to express your support for government funding of fusion propulsion, contact your Representatives and Senators!
On May 29, 2019, Ms. Thomas gave an invited talk to the Future In-Space Operations working group on Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) for deep space propulsion. The slides and talk audio are available from FISO’s online archive here. The group hosts weekly telecon seminars to discuss upcoming technologies and their potential impact on space operations.
Our talk introduces Direct Fusion Drive, explains how it is based on the Princeton Field Reversed Configuration (PFRC), and reviews some potential missions. There are summaries of the key physics points enabling the PFRC and the computational and modeling tools we apply. We conclude with the roadmap to spaceflight, including the supporting technologies that will be required for successful space engines, like lightweight space radiators.
We are looking for a plasma physicist to join our staff in support our new ARPA-E contract on the Princeton Field Reversed Configuration (PFRC) experiment.
Candidates should be interested in both theoretical and experimental work in plasma physics related to nuclear fusion power generation. Familiarity with low- and high-temperature plasma diagnostics is desirable. Background on any magnetic fusion device is also desirable. The position includes:
Help run experiments on the PFRC-2 (located at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory) and analyze data.
Analytical and numerical work, including MHD simulations and PiC simulations.
Numerical modeling of plasmas.
Work in other areas at PSS including control, estimation, machine learning and orbit dynamics.
Programming in MATLAB, Python and C/C++.
Write proposals and come up with new topics for proposals including SBIR and STTR proposals.
Ph.D in plasma physics (may be a recent or 2019 grad)
Apress has released a second edition of our textbook, MATLAB Machine Learning Recipes! New chapters include Fuzzy Logic and Expert Systems. We have also expanded our discussions of Neural Networks and Multiple Hypothesis Testing. The book provides a broad overview of machine learning including topics from adaptive control and estimation. Examples include learning control of aircraft and automobile target tracking.