A direct fusion drive for rocket propulsion

Yosef S. Razin, Gary Pajer, Mary Breton, Eric Ham, Joseph Mueller, Michael Paluszek, Alan H. Glasser, Samuel A. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The Direct Fusion Drive (DFD), a compact, anuetronic fusion engine, will enable more challenging exploration missions in the solar system. The engine proposed here uses a deuterium-helium-3 reaction to produce fusion energy by employing a novel field-reversed configuration (FRC) for magnetic confinement. The FRC has a simple linear solenoid coil geometry yet generates higher plasma pressure, hence higher fusion power density, for a given magnetic field strength than other magnetic-confinement plasma devices. Waste heat generated from the plasma's Bremsstrahlung and synchrotron radiation is recycled to maintain the fusion temperature. The charged reaction products, augmented by additional propellant, are exhausted through a magnetic nozzle. A 1 MW DFD is presented in the context of a mission to deploy the James Webb Space Telescope (6200 kg) from GPS orbit to a Sun-Earth L2 halo orbit in 37 days using just 353 kg of propellant and about half a kilogram of 3He. The engine is designed to produce 40 N of thrust with an exhaust velocity of 56.5 km/s and has a specific power of 0.18 kW/kg.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalActa Astronautica
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


  • Aneutronic
  • Deuterium
  • FRC
  • Fusion
  • Helium-3
  • Propulsion


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