Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsAstronomy & Space · 1 decade ago

Could steam be used as a form of space propulsion?

I used to build model steam trains when i was younger and couldn't compressed steam be used as a means of space travel?

if oxygen escaping from a ballon makes it fly across a room, i think compressed steam rockets would works as well.


I was thinking along the lines of using a comet as a source of water and or perhaps europa has the ice or water to spare for a steam rocket.

9 Answers

  • NJGuy
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Where in outer space will you resupply the fuel necessary to boil the water that is not available to generate the steam that you will use? And where can we find the oxygen to burn the fuel if nuclear power was not an option? Yes, it sounds like a good idea, but the logistics prevent the possibility. Space travel will always be dependent on taking everything you need along with you for the entire trip! There are no re-supply stops along the way to allow a trip. Even if we build them, they would have to be so close together that it would be necessary to stop so often that the trip would take three or four times longer. Considering that the closest star is 4+ light years away, the trip would then take 12 to 16 years travel each way.

    Storage of sufficient steam in a tank large enough to produce escape velocity would make the trip impravtical -- the weight of the storage unit would be so great that the ship would never move.

  • 1 decade ago

    Compressed steam would work to propel a rocket, but (as noted above) the problem is how to heat the steam. That requires fuel and a source of oxygen. It also creates an inefficiency, because when you burn the fuel, some of the fuel's energy is wasted as heat instead of going into making steam.

  • Frank
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    You assume that steam would be an efficient source of propulsion, when it would not. We need both the water volume plus an adequate supply of energy to create the heat.

    Both fuel efficiency and weight would be the critical concerns..

    What could be used as fuel? Obviously not coal, or other fossil fuels, and if we use nuclear sources we still need to be worried about the weight of the water and well as any atmosphere we encounter. Steam served well before other energy sources were developed but won't work in the space age.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    i assumed approximately this myself a at the same time as lower back, steam could probably be used directional thrusters yet no longer as a lifting rigidity to hold a spaceship out into area, i had a dream approximately dwelling on a comet and mining ice from the comet to apply as gas for the steam rockets which would be used to alter the direction of the comet ever so particularly, additionally ice mined from the comet could be broken down into oxygen and hydrogen and hydrogen could be used a gas to produce ability to run the electronics and existence help if there became a colony on the comet, oxygen could come from the ice besides and since the comet travels it could be used as a sluggish boat to everywhere.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It is.

    The exhaust that propels rockets is almost enitrely made of steam. Rocket propulsion relies on burning hydrogen and oxygen to for superhot water (steam) which is then ejected backwards to the direction of travel.

  • 1 decade ago

    Water is heavy and so would be the fuel to heat it. NO WAY would that work. That was so 1800's. The balloon is like a jet engine. Already invented but sadly requires oxygen. Not good for space travel.

  • 1 decade ago

    You would have to get a boiler, fuel and a lot of water up there.

    I would say it would be a little impractical

  • 1 decade ago

    i guess but im guessing steam wont work as good as oxygen

  • 1 decade ago


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