The use of steam to drive spacecraft from asteroids to asteroids is now possible thanks to a collaboration between a private space company and the University of Central Florida.
UCF's Planetary Scientist Phil Metzger worked with Honeybee Robotics in Pasadena, California, which developed the world is not enough spacecraft prototype that extracts water from asteroids or other planetary bodies to generate steam and propel itself to its next mining target. [1
"It's amazing," Metzger says about the demonstration. "Wine successfully reduced the earth, made rocket propellants and launched itself on a steam jet extracted from the simulator. We could possibly use this technology to jump on the moon, Ceres, Europe, Titan, Pluto, Mercury poles, asteroids – of which there is water and Low enough gravity. "
WINE, which is the size of a microwave oven, reduces the water from the surface and makes it into steam to fly to a new location and repeat. Therefore, it is a rocket that never runs out of fuel and can theoretically explore "forever".
The process works in a variety of scenarios depending on the weight of each object, Metzger says. The spacecraft uses deployable solar panels to get enough energy for mining and steam, or it could use small radiosotopic decomposition units to extend the potential reach of these planetary stairs to Pluto and other places far from the sun.
Metzger spent three years developing technology that is necessary to make the idea a reality. He developed new equations and a new method for making computer modeling of steam propulsion to arrive at the new method and to verify that it would actually work beyond a computer screen.