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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Boeing patents laser-powered fusion-fission jet engine for airplanes, spacecraft


Assume the brace position. Boeing has received a patent for, I kid you not, a laser-powered fusion-fission jet propulsion system. Boeing envisions that this system could replace both rocket and turbofan engines, powering everything from spacecraft to missiles to airplanes.

The patent, US 9,068,562, combines inertial confinement fusion, fission, and a turbine that generates electricity. It sounds completely crazy—and it is completely unrealistic given our current mastery of fusion, or lack thereof—but, in the future perhaps, this could be a rather ingenious solution.

To begin with, imagine the silhouette of a big turbofan engine, like you'd see on a commercial jetliner.

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