Here is a summary focused on the space technology aspects from the Fusion Industry Association’s 2023 Global Fusion Industry report:
- Several private fusion companies are exploring potential applications of their technologies for space propulsion and power generation. These include HelicitySpace, Electric Fusion Systems, Ex-Fusion, LPPFusion, Magneto Inertial Fusion Technologies, Nearstar Fusion, Princeton Fusion Systems, and Avalanche Energy.
- Avalanche Energy is developing a compact 5kWe fusion microreactor called the Orbitron, targeting space propulsion and power needs. They aim to have an orbital demonstration by 2028.
- HelicitySpace is pursuing compact fusion space propulsion and power systems using a plectonemic confinement approach. They achieved first plasma in 2023.
- Princeton Fusion Systems’ rotamak technology can provide both terrestrial power and propulsion/power for spacecraft. They are working towards a 1 MWe pilot plant by 2030.
- The high energy density and minimal fuel requirements of fusion make it appealing for meeting the challenging energy and propulsion needs of deep space exploration.
- Several inertial and magneto-inertial confinement companies also mention potential space applications among their target markets.
- While not explicitly mentioned in this report, the high specific impulse and high thrust of fusion propulsion could enable rapid transits to Mars and beyond.
In summary, a subset of the rapidly growing private fusion industry sees strong potential for providing the immense energy required for future space transportation and operations. Multiple companies are actively developing fusion technology for space, with demonstrations and pilot plants expected in the coming decade.