The Electrodeless Lorentz Force Thruster
The ELF thruster, funded by the Department of Defense, utilizes Rotating Magnetic Field (RMF) and pulsed-inductive technologies that promise radical advances in space propulsion. The ELF creates, forms, and accelerates field-reversed plasma toroids to high velocity. It has demonstrated the ability to efficiently utilize complex propellants such as Air, Argon, and Hydrazine .
The ELF enables a broad range of high-power propulsion missions. Fundamentally, this technology has significantly greater thrust and power densities than any realizable propulsion technology. The ability to operate on in situ propellants will enable very eccentric orbit propulsion, re-fuelable orbital transfer vehicles, deep space return missions, and even direct drag makeup for extremely low orbits. At current power levels, this thruster technology minimizes system mass, size, and cost, while increasing overall mission flexibility. Finally, extending this technology to higher densities and powers that have been demonstrated in the laboratory, there are mission applications in high-altitude, air-breathing, hypersonic flight and beamed-energy upper stage propulsion that are not feasible with traditional technologies.
Sincerely hope MSNW doesn't let their air-breathing propulsion research languish while they work on the easier, high-Isp interplanetary propulsion.
I think the greatest need for innovation is found at the ground-to-orbit part of the trip.
Anyone know where these can be found?
Preliminary Performance Measurements of the Air-Breathing ELF Thruster. J. Slough, D. Kirtley, and T. Weber. Joint Army Navy NASA Air Force Conference, Orlando Florida (2008).
Air-Breathing Plasmoid Ejector (APE). D. Kirtley, J. Slough, and T. Weber. Advanced Space Propulsion Workshop, Pasadena, CA (2008).