A "Solar Jet" in my imagination would be a thruster that collects solar wind with magnetic fields, charges the particles, then expels those charged particles through a nozzle. It could be run on a reactor, solar power or any other high performance power source. Calling it a jet is because it resembles conventional jet engines where air is mixed with fuel then ignited.

Would this contraption be possible, and would it be efficient enough to consider It over any other type of propulsion?

(sketch for ease of understanding, components not final, sorry for misspelling) enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Is your question about interstellar space, where wind's density is very, very low, or inner Solar system, where wind's density (and pressure) is considerable? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Aug 19, 2020 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking Heliosphere. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2020 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


Yes it is possible.

It was already invented:

The Bussard ramjet is a theoretical method of spacecraft propulsion proposed in 1960 by the physicist Robert W. Bussard, popularized by Poul Anderson's novel Tau Zero, Larry Niven in his Known Space series of books, Vernor Vinge in his Zones of Thought series, and referred to by Carl Sagan in the television series and book Cosmos. (Wikipedia)

Main problem with your design is very low actual particle density for it to be effective. For jet-sized intake you will have only one proton at a time on average. You need a miles-wide intake to have something to accelerate.

  • $\begingroup$ Another major problem, is that the amount of energy you get from gathering material will be very unlikely to be enough to overcome the drag to your velocity from collecting the material. $\endgroup$ Aug 19, 2020 at 19:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MichaelRichardson, the point of ramscoopjets is to add energy to collected material (from, say, fission reactor), not to take energy from it. It allowes to ovecome "Tsiolkovsky curse", but not energy problems $\endgroup$
    – ksbes
    Aug 20, 2020 at 10:26

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