Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion

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Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion (M2P2) was a twenty-first century advanced plasma propulsion system that enabled spacecraft to attain unprecedented speeds for minimal energy and mass requirements. The high efficiency and specific impulse attained by the system was due to its utilization of the solar wind, to provide the enhanced thrust. Coupling to the solar wind was produced through a large-scale magnetic bubble or mini-magnetosphere generated by the injection of plasma doped with dust into the magnetic field supported by solenoid coils on the spacecraft. This inflation was driven by electromagnetic processes so that the material and deployment problems associated with mechanical sails were eliminated. Initial designs called for a nominal configuration utilizing only solar electric cells for power, the M2P2 produced a magnetic cloud approximately 20 km in radius, which accelerated a 140 kg payload to speeds of 80 km/s. This system required only a few kilowatts of power to support the solenoid field coils and the plasma injectors, and only a few tens of kilograms of propellant were needed. The system revolutionized exploration of the solar system with its unprecedented mobility while utilizing only solar electric cells. Larger electric systems were incorporated that provided tens of kilowatts of power which produced speeds in excess of 100 km/s.

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