In Star Trek, the Starship Enterprise is driven by an antimatter-matter reaction chamber.
Here in the 21st Century, our spacecraft aren’t quite so advanced, but scientists at NASA (and other research organisations) are working on it.
It costs energy to make antimatter
To use antimatter as fuel for a spacecraft, first we’d have to make the antimatter on Earth. We’d have to use energy to make the antimatter, and that would cost us more energy than we could ever get back from the antimatter fuel.
So you might think there’d be no point. But in fact scientists are still working on antimatter power for spacecraft. Why is that?
A little antimatter could take you a long way
When matter and antimatter annihilate, all their mass is turned into energy. So even a small amount of antimatter can release an enormous amount of energy. We say that antimatter has a high energy density.
When you’re designing a spacecraft, it’s vital to keep it light in weight. So you want a fuel source that gives up a lot of energy, but doesn’t weigh much. Antimatter fuel would be about 10 billion times more efficient than any of the chemical rocket fuels we use today.
It would be worth making antimatter fuel, if we could, because it would be the lightest-weight fuel we can imagine.
Watch this space!
At the moment we can’t store enough antimatter to power even a small spacecraft, and we can’t store antimatter long enough for even a short voyage.
Nevertheless, scientists around the world are working on the problem.
The Starship Enterprise isn’t a reality yet, but we might still see spacecraft driven by antimatter in the future.
So this is one “myth” that might just be possible.
Antimatter isn’t just about science fiction or myths.
We already put antimatter to practical use, every day.
Antimatter is useful >>