An American engineer, Michael Micci of Pennsylvania State University, US, has used parts from a microwave oven to build a propulsion system that could revolutionise rocket launches. The system can be fuelled by water and it could lead to cheaper, larger and more reliable satellites with longer life spans. Microwaves can create a free-floating plasma -- superheated, electrically-charged gas -- inside an engine. When a cold 'fuel' gas is passed through the plasma, it gets hot and comes out through a nozzle, generating thrust. This microwave-powered thruster may halve the amount of fuel required by rockets.
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