Direct Fusion Drive

To innovate future technologies while promoting a sustainable future, Princeton Satellite Systems and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have proposed a revolutionary direct-drive, fusion-powered rocket engine. Compact and clean-burning, the Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) can generate controllable power from 1-10 MW with high thrust and high specfic power.

Equipped with this engine:
  1. A single Delta IV Heavy could send a DFD powered spacecraft to orbit Pluto. It could reach Pluto in 4 years and while there provide over 1 MW of power for science and commmunications.Blog Post
  2. A small reusable craft, configured for 1 MW, could deploy and service the James Webb Telescope.[Razin 2012]
  3. A human Mars orbital mission could be reduced to nine months roundtrip.[Paluszek 2014]
  4. The Jupiter Icy Moons Mission could arrive in 1/4 of the time that it took the Galileo spacecraft.[Pajer 2012]
  5. Interstellar travel becomes closer to reality, with the 4.5 light year trip to Alpha Centuri taking 500 years.[Paluszek 2011]
Check out our Mars mission!!

Other possible applications include asteroid mining and space-based radar. PSS has also developed the Fusion Propulsion Module to help with fusion propulsion design. A diagram of the DFD with more information is shown below.

Safe and Clean: Aneutronic Fuels more

Compact and Stable: Heating with RMFo more

"Houston, We Have Lift Off": Thrust Augmentation more

Example Mission: Deploying the James Webb Space Telescope more

Direct Fusion Drive in the News

2016 NIAC award: Fusion-Enabled Pluto Orbiter and Lander

Radio: Divine Imagination (Plasma Physics & Fusion) -- Nov. 22, 2013 WPRB Broadcast

Recent articles:

Publications (PDF)

  1. A direct fusion drive for rocket propulsion, Yosef S Razin, Gary Pajer, Mary Breton, Eric Ham, Joseph Mueller, Michael Paluszek, Alan H Glasser and Samuel A Cohen, Acta Astronautica, Number 1, pp 145--155, December, 2014.

  2. Direct Fusion Drive, presented at the 20th Advanced Space Propulsion Workshop, S. Thomas, M. Paluszek, and S. Cohen, November, 2014.

  3. Direct Fusion Drive for a Human Mars Orbital Mission, Michael Paluszek, Gary Pajer, Yosef Razin, James Slonaker, Samuel Cohen, Russ Feder, Kevin Griffin and Matthew Walsh, International Astronautical Congress, October, 2014.

  4. Compact Aneutronic Fusion Engine, Y. Razin, M. Paluszek, E. Ham, G. Pajer, J. Mueller, S. Cohen, A. H. Glasser International Astronautical Congress, Naples, October 2012.

  5. Modular Aneutronic Fusion Engine, G. Pajer, Y. Razin, M. Paluszek, A. H. Glasser, S. Cohn, Space Propulsion 2012, May 2012.

  6. Modular Aneutronic Fusion Engine for an Alpha Centauri Mission, M. Paluszek, S, Hurley, G. Pajer, S. Thomas, J. Mueller, S. Cohen, D. Welch, DARPA 100 Year Starship Conference, September 2011.

  7. Magnetic Fusion Engine, N. N. Gorelenkov, L. E. Zakharov, M. A. Paluszek and P. Bhatta, Magnetic Fusion Engine, in Proc. 43rd AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference, Cincinnati, July, 2007.

  8. The Grand Challenge: A New Plasma Thruster, Cohen, S.A. and M. Paluszek, Launchspace, December 1998, pp. 46-50.


  • "In Space Startup Method for Nuclear Fusion Rocket Engines," Paluszek, M., Ham, E., Cohen, S., and Razin, Y. Patent Pending, August 2013, Publication Number 20150055740.

  • "Method To Reduce Neutron Production in Small Clean Fusion Reactors," S. Cohen, Patent Pending, US 13/33767, 2012.

  • "Method To Produce High Specific Impulse and Moderate Thrust From a Fusion-Powered Rocket Engine," S. Cohen, G. Pajer, M. Paluszek, Y. Razin, Patent Pending, US 61/645459, 2012.