Elon Musk talks about “antimatter rockets” in a tweet

0

Was SpaceX working on an antimatter propulsion system? An enigmatic tweet from CEO Elon Musk raises the suspicion that the aerospace company may be looking into this possibility.

On Monday (8), the World of Engineering published a post about the existence of projects with antimatter rockets – a spaceship powered by the substance. Surprisingly, Musk answered mysteriously, “Ultimately, yes.”

Today, spacecraft built by SpaceX are powered by petroleum-based fuels such as methane. For example, Falcon 9 works with highly refined kerosene known as RP-1.

However, Elon Musk’s tweet may indicate that the company is looking for an advanced fuel alternative. Soon, antimatter would be one of the options for future releases.

Although it has never been produced on a large scale, physicists believe that antimatter can be an incredibly potent fuel. In 2006, NASA estimated that only a few milligrams of the substance would be able to take a spacecraft to Mars.

More recently, researchers have revealed that propulsion using antimatter could become a reality in the next 10 years. So, is SpaceX taking the lead in research on this new fuel?

The manufacture of antimatter at CERN

In February 2020, a team of physicists from CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) made important advances in studies on antimatter. At the time, they were able to produce, capture and study the material for 24 hours.

The researchers used the center’s particle accelerators to produce a significant amount of the substance and kept the particles “frozen” for a long time. With that, some experiments were carried out with the material.

This was an extremely important feat, as antimatter atoms normally move at almost the same level as the speed of light. Thus, they are able to disappear in just 40 billionths of a second.