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The NASA-Lewis Program on Fusion Energy for Space Power and Propulsion, 1958–1978

Norman R. Schulze, J. Reece Roth

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 19 / Number 1 / January 1991 / Pages 11-28


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A retrospective summary and bibliography of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration research program on fusion energy for space power and propulsion systems conducted at the Lewis Research Center are presented. This effort extended over a 20-yr period ending in 1978, involved several hundred person-years of effort, and included theory, experiment, technology development, and mission analysis. This program was initiated in 1958 and was carried out within the Electromagnetic Propulsion Division. Within this division, mission analysis and basic research on high-temperature plasma physics were carried out in the Advanced Concepts Branch. Three pioneering high-field superconducting magnetic confinement facilities were developed with the support of the Magnetics and Cryophysics Branch. The results of this program serve as a basis for subsequent discussions of the space applications of fusion energy, contribute to the understanding of high-temperature plasmas and how to produce them, and advance the state of the art of superconducting magnet technology used in fusion research.

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