Sun, 09 May 1999 14:05:58 -0700
I did a little research found that helium comprises about a quarter of the
mass of the Jovian atmosphere -- about the same percentage as oxygen in
Earth's atmosphere -- and that helium-3 is about one part in ten thousand.
This means that the JEF must process ten kilograms of helium to obtain a
single gram of helium-3.
While the two components can be separated in situ and the common isotope
vented back into the Jovian atmosphere, it might be more cost effective to
"refine" the helium in orbital stations and use the common isotope for
propellant or anything else but reactor fuel.
If so, then MS fuel may simply be helium all around, with helium-3 being
used in the reactor as fuel and helium-4, most likely stored in liquid
form, as propellant and coolant throughout the rest of the MS.
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