Michael Paluszek and Gary Pajer of Princeton Satellite Systems attended the Celebrate Princeton Invention (CPI) 2016 reception in the Chancellor Green Rotunda on the university campus.
Our research on small nuclear fusion reactors is part of a team effort with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) so our display was part of the PPPL booth.
The poster describes our project to design a nuclear fusion propelled robotic spacecraft to go into orbit around Pluto. It would get there in about 3 years and deploy a lander. While in orbit it would return HDTV quality images and massive amounts of data through its high power communications links. The short duration of the trip would save almost $300M in operations costs. It would be launched from Low Earth Orbit, saving even more money!
The propulsion system could also be used for a Neptune Orbiter, missions to Jupiter’s icy moons, an Enceladus lander, asteroid deflection and human exploration of Mars. More down-to-earth applications include powering bases in Antarctica and driving the propulsion systems for unmanned underwater vehicles.
Our reactor uses helium-3 as a fuel. As the supplies of helium-3 grow, possibly from Canada’s CANDU reactors, helium gas from natural gas extraction or mining the moon, the reactor could be used to generate power everywhere. It is the ideal supplement to wind and solar power.
Gary Pajer and I talked with many attendees at CPI. Here is Gary talking with a visitor to our booth.
Visitors to our booth included researchers from Schlumberger, ExxonMobil and from around the campus. It was great fun talking to everyone and seeing all the interesting research done at Princeton University!