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Space Travel Engines

Shuttle Main Engine Exhaust
Your typical 375,000 pound thrust Space Shuttle Main Enginge (SSME), viewed here from the inside out. Wouldn't want to be in this particular spot when this baby kicks in. This blast furnace burns liquid oxygen (LO2) and liquid hydrogen (LH2) in a 6 to 1 ratio as in 6 parts LO2 to 1 part LH2. Very much the same as the mixture of gin to vermouth in an AZooNY.com martini.


 

 

Specific Impulse ISP
Now the Shuttle engine from the outside. Did you know they run Liquid Hydrogen around the nozzle to keep it cool? Seems a bit extreme running -423o F Liquid Hydrogen around your feet.





Propellant Pumbs and Cooling
Quite the plumbing job. Would hate to accidentally get the hot and cold water lines reversed.





Nuclear Electric Xenon Ion System NEXIS
An Ion thruster emits just a pin-prick of thrust but constantly doing so builds up tremendous velocity over time.  This works great - untill you need to stop (the second half of any mission has the engine flipped aroud, running the other way to slow down :-)).  This wouldn't be too practical for a trip over to the local shopping mall (unless, of course, it's within the Alpha Centari System).

 


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