SpaceX has been developing reusable rockets for many years, NASA is constantly in search of American capsules for launches to the ISS from their homeland, and a Russian startup is building a nuclear engine for future rockets. But among all these innovations in the space sector, you could miss the news about the creation of a new company in Silicon Valley, whose ideas are worthy of attention and ... fears!
Apollo Fusion is a new company developing a propulsion system for missiles that plan to use mercury as fuel. Of course, mercury has some prospects in this regard, but the launch of any such rocket entails the risk of the spread of a toxic substance in the atmosphere.
It is worth recalling that the idea of using mercury as a rocket fuel is not new. In the 60s. NASA conducted similar experiments during the Missy SERT period. To do this, they created two spacecraft (SERT-I and SERT-II), which were to test the concept of the ion engine. With the help of an ion engine, powerful magnets in a spacecraft push small charged particles at high speeds, creating traction. Today's designs use kryptons or xenon. For example, this technology is used in the Dawn spacecraft traveling in the asteroid belt.
Mercury is much heavier than xenon or krypton, so this spacecraft is able to generate more thrust. But we are dealing with a dangerous neurotoxin, so NASA has stopped using it. But Apollo Fusion is going to return mercury. If all goes well, the company will provide low-cost, powerful ion engines for launching satellites and spacecraft. If everything fails, they will flood the atmosphere with toxic mercury.
It would be better for Apollo Fusion to look for another fuel or to launch launches extremely carefully. If something goes wrong, the consequences will affect the entire planet.