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Okay Star Trek fans . . . you've watched Captain Kirk and his crew operate and maintain some pretty fantastic, ultra high-tech propulsion and weapons systems over the years . . . but did you ever imagine that many of these mind boggling contraptions would soon be (or are) reality?   Check these super high tech devices out!


Advanced Propulsion and Weapons Systems

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Ion Pulse Engine
(Solar Electric Propulsion)

Old Rockets:
Since Werner Von Braun, space flight propulsion systems have relied on somewhat conventional rocket engines. These solid or liquid chemical rocket motors create their power through a chemical reaction that takes place between a fuel and an oxidizer.

Considering the challenges of space travel, chemical rockets have offered the advantage of developing the awesome levels of thrust, required to break free of planetary orbit.

They also, however, have a few disappointing disadvantages, for example they are usually quite large and massively heavy, requiring very large amounts of chemical fuels and oxidizers. Even more critical, they are not capable of long continuous operation. To overcome the disadvantages, research is now being conducted on propulsion systems that use principles of physics instead of chemistry.

New Ion Systems:
One very cool technology, straight out of the science fiction books, is Ion pulse propulsion. Also known as, Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Ion pulse propulsion is a technology that involves ionizing xenon gas to propel a craft. (xenon is a relatively common gas similar to neon or helium, but is a bit heavier.)

As the xenon gas is fed into the engine, it is ionized (given an electrical charge) and is then accelerated to a speed of about 68,000 miles per hour.   When these emitted xenon ions are shot out of the back end of a spacecraft, they will push the craft in the opposite direction at a constantly increasing higher rate of speed.

While the acceleration rate from an Ion pulse engine is gentle and cannot be used in applications requiring rapid acceleration (such as warp speed!) it can propel a craft to speeds that are at least ten times greater than a chemical rocket.

In addition to being much smaller and much lighter then a conventional rocket, the Ion pulse engine is believed to be dramatically more fuel efficient, especially in prolonged, deep space missions. The one limitation is in power, Ion pulse engines are not powerful enough to break the bonds of gravity, carrying a typically heavy payload, so they will have to rely on conventional rockets to get them into space. Once in space, however, the Ion pulse engine can provide thrust for many thousands of hours on limited amounts of fuel.

Ion Pulse Engines In Use:
The Ion engine is out of the lab and is now reality. "Deep Space 1," a deep space probe using an Ion engine, was NASA’s first mission in the "New Millennium Program," a program designed to test and validate new technologies.

NASA’s initial calculations projected that Deep Space 1’s Ion engine could run at 50% throttle for 20 months on only 81.5 kg of xenon propellant.   As of June 2001, the Ion thruster had far exceeded NASA’s expectations, powering the mission for over 12,000 hours, allowing NASA to extend the mission to a September 2001 encounter with Comet Borrelly.   

By the way, Deep Space 1's Ion pulse engine has it cruising at around 10,000 miles per hour.  

by: Dr. Von Zuko 2007©     

Pain-Ray Cannon (Directed-energy Weapon)  

Active Denial Weapons SystemThe United States Marine Corps, the Air Force, and Raytheon, have jointly developed a new large-scale directed-energy weapon that fires a burst of non-lethal but intensely painful microwave energy.  

How painful you ask?  Imagine having the skin, all over your body (because clothing offers no protection) suddenly scalded to a depth of 1/64 of an inch . . . ouch!!  While the ray is said to cause no permanent harm, the instant pain is severe enough to cause an enemy (or folks engaged in civil unrest) to drop everything they are doing and run the other way.  Once a person is out of range, the pain stops and they're pretty much unharmed.  

With a range of about a half mile or so, the "Pain Ray" can reach beyond the "effective" range of shoulder-fired small arms, making the Pain-Ray Cannon an ideal military weapon for enforcing "area denial" that is, taking control of an area (denying the enemy use) while avoiding the use of  lethal force.  

Interestingly, the "Pain-Ray Cannon" can also be used to burn up the electronics of the enemy's battlefield assets such as, the ignition systems of military vehicles, computers and communications gear.  It's likely that the military will mount this directed-energy weapon in a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) to do this type of work, because it could fly very close to enemy lines with out endangering our troops, but wreaking havoc with the enemy's assets. 

"Phasers on Stun Scotty."

by: Dr. Von Zuko 2006©

Electromagnetic Mind-control Weapons
(Acoustic Psycho-correction) 

Operating on the principles of electromagnetic flux, "Acoustic Psycho-correction" weapons have been in development since the early 1970's.  Utilizing low frequency transmissions, specific commands can be sent via static or white noise bands directly into the human subconscious allegedly, without upsetting other intellectual functions.  

Demonstrations of these evolving technologies have shown positive results (even with exposures of less than one minute) producing noticeably altered behaviors in both willing and unwilling subjects.  These Mind-altering weapons can be used to fight terrorists, control dissidents, suppress riots, and demoralize or disable enemy forces.  On a positive note, the technology could also be used to enhance the performance or frame of mind of friendly forces.

Other Low-Frequency Weapon Effects:

The effects that can be produced through the use of ultra-low frequency weapons  include: a sense of panic in non-panic situations, temporary paralysis, nausea, diarrhea, vertigo, palpitations, disorientation, severe headaches, loss of memory, loss of concentration, retinal bleeding, burnt face (even at night), faulty speech, loss of co-ordination, irritability, and even sleep disturbances.

by: Dr. Von Zuko 1998©

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