The Bussard Ramjet

Don’t get me wrong, I love the sleek, beautiful ships of the most speculative science fiction, and I would like to think that any technology would become more simple and intuitive as it becomes embraced. But I just have a thing for big, ugly, dirty spaceships, most notably the ones from the 70s and 80s, as seen in the Alien and original Star Wars franchises. The (maybe slightly inaccurately rendered) ship here is known as a Bussard ramjet, named after the man who first theorized it. To put it simply, as if I can really understand it on a more complex level anyways, a Bussard ramjet is a ship that generates a giant magnetic field. The purpose of this magnetic field is to collect the stray hydrogen ions that float around in interstellar space. The problem with typical vessel designs is that the fuel tanks add extra mass, which means it will will require more energy to move, which means more fuel, which means more mass, so on and so forth. Since this ship can theoretically collect its fuel as needed, it would not be hindered by the extra mass of onboard fuel and could achieve velocities very near the speed of light. Theoretically. As far as we can speculate right now, it’s one of the most likely means by which we could send humans to another star system.

Not that I’m some kind of nerd or anything.



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