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Midnight Zephyr

The Midnight Zephyr is one of a handful of fusion-driven spacecraft I'm designing for my setting that ferry supplies and people between Earth's Moon and the orbital habitats of Saturn. A typical flight plan starts with 18.5 days of gentle, constant acceleration, followed by over 140 days coasting in freefall before flipping around and burning for another 18.5 days to break into orbit around Saturn. These spacecraft carry only enough fusion fuel for one leg of the round trip, and must refuel at Saturn to return to Earth. Rather than using more traditional solid radiator panels, the heat from the fusion rocket is instead dissipated by an advanced liquid droplet radiator system which sprays a thin sheet of molten lithium droplets that rapidly shed their heat into the vacuum of space before being collected and recycled.

The Midnight Zephyr.

The Midnight Zephyr.

In orbit over Earth's Moon.

In orbit over Earth's Moon.

During the 18.5 day burn, the liquid droplet radiators glow a dull red as they dump the titanic waste heat from the fusion rocket into space.

During the 18.5 day burn, the liquid droplet radiators glow a dull red as they dump the titanic waste heat from the fusion rocket into space.

Orbiting Saturn, just above the ring plane.

Orbiting Saturn, just above the ring plane.