The Grand Table of Newtonian Tomfoolery

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AKA, the Index of Atomic Rockets engine entries


of this document is to create a preliminary index of all the rockets, engines, and propulsive mechanisms indexed in the Atomic Rockets website, for purposes of creating entries similar to these in the Galactic Encyclopedia by two-person editor teams in parallel.

For a table that surveys what kind of table categories Winchell uses on the three engine list pages, please refer to the Grand Atomic Index of Tabulary Rocketry Table.

Organizational Thoughts

  • Consider thermal rockets as the top level division over electric vs. chemical. The energy source is perhaps less important than the basic thrust mechanism.
  • Keep scientifically outdated concepts, but mark them as such. There is value for reference and for softer sci-fi in keeping these around.
  • In keeping with that point, what qualifies as “scientifically outdated” is not always clear. It would be good to support an open-ended discussion section on each engine’s knowns, unknowns, properties, things that might make it unrealistic, caveats to be aware of, etc.
  • The history of how a particular rocket technology was developed may also be of interest, as a subsection on categories and on particular engines. E.g. the history for NPP is straightup hilarious (as well as being foundational and somewhat explanatory of that whole age in the contemporary sci-fi). Engine type sections could link to their own history posts.
  • Densities are rarely mentioned when it comes to propellant types of any system.
  • Look for holes in the existing engine list, where there is a concept that could exist but perhaps doesn’t yet, and flag for future reference.
  • There is an explanation of the general principles behind the engine type (e.g. how, say, laser thermal works). Associated with the upper-level categorizations for engine types.
  • Explain the most fundamental limits driving some sets of rocket/engine designs *first*, building the understanding for how from these limitations, the options we offer derive and relate to.

Other Thoughts

Regarding engine performance table in general: not just specific impulse but density impulse should be included as well

Zerraspace: I'd like to point out that there is such a huge variety of chemical rockets, even in their subfields like bipropellant and monopropellant, that perhaps rather than full entries for every combination, you give a basic principles, notes on cryogen difficulties, plus a table of performance something like Wikipedia has, before getting to specific engines or classes that deserve more information in their own right.

David B: Yes, I will take good care of commenting it
In general I would make something like Fuel mix / optimal o.f. ratio / density / specific and density impulse (at 1atm with adapted nozzle and vacuum with high area ratio nozzle) / handling notes / a few examples of rockets using it
A description of various ways you can harvest power off of rocket engines may make sense?


Liquid Rocket Engines

Chemical rocket principles:
Chemical rocket propellant performance:
Link to “Ignition” for the poor souls that don’t have a copy:

Electric Rocket Engines

Electrodeless plasma thrusters:

Nuclear Pulse Engines

A declassified paper on the Orion drive:

Entry Structure Revamps

For Comparison:
Average entry engine spec table (on the bigger end):


Zach Hajj (Zerraspace): Under fuels, have a main header including a range of key parameters to be expected, plus key features. An example for chemical rockets could look something like this:

Exhaust Velocity: 1.5 km/s - 4.5 km/s (up to 5.3 km/s possible with extreme combinations)
Very high thrust (TWR 10-200)
As far as ‘key features’, examples include highly radioactive, needs shadow shield for NTRs, only works at large scales for nuclear pulsed propulsion, and needs active cooling for electric drives.
The idea behind this is it allows someone to quickly identify what type of drive they might want for general performance and allow them to cherry pick reasonable numbers without going through the weeds.
Extra details such as mass-flow and such, possibly in a full-on table ala Atomic Rockets, would be included under specific engines.

We may also want a table at the top of the page comparing expected properties for various engine classes, something like this:


  • Real/Near - no color (either actually works or has prototypes or the principles demonstrated).
  • Disproven - Orange, (disproven but still explaining the history behind it).
  • Plausible - Blue, (not disproven, but has a fair chance of being real.)
  • Fringe - Red, (not disproven, but probably isn’t possible at all).
  • Other - Brown(either fictional or straight up doesn’t make sense, but has some merits worth including).
  • Delete - strikethrough.
  • Move - Green, (Movement to Other Non-Propulsion/History Sections.)

New Entries For the Galactic Library

This section is for planned entry additions to the engine lists (or revamps of them)

  • Suspended nitrogen colloid

Non-nuclear Pulse Propulsion

  • Quenching Superconductor Rocket (QSR)
  • Nitrogen Allotrope Pellets
  • Mirror Bottle Pellets


  • Turborockets
    • Chemical
    • Nuclear
  • Ramrockets

Hybrid solid-liquid rocket engines

Having some subdivisions/variety in solid rockets might be worthwhile.

Liquid Rocket Engines

  • Some of the more ‘unusual’ examples from “Ignition” such as Li-H-F rocket
  • Monopropellants
  • Mercury and other heavy fuels
  • Chlorine trifluoride and other scary oxidizers

Detonation engines

(both RDE and PDE), since they’ve been a hot topic recently

Cold gas thrusters

List of Engines from Atomic Rockets

Engine List 1:

Beamed Power

Laser Thermal
Laser Sail
Solar Moth


Liquid propellant and solid propellant primers are complete.

Storeable vs Cryogenic

Solid Rocket
Liquid Rocket
RP-1 - Oxygen
Hypergolic Fuels

Hybrid Rocket

Aluminum-Oxygen ISRU Metal-Oxygen


Atomic Hydrogen
Metallic Hydrogen

Metastable He*
Metastable He IV-A


Ion thruster article is complete.

Electromagnetic (Plasma)
Electrodeless plasma
Helicon Double Layer (HDLT)
Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD)
Pulsed Inductive (PIT)
Pulsed Plasma (PPT)
Pulsed Plasmoid (ELF)
Pulsed Plasmoid (Alfvenic)


Electrostatic Propellant
Field-Emission Electric (FEEP)
Hall Effect (HET)
Radioisotope Electrostatic
( IBS Agamemnon )


Hybrid ArcJet
Nuclear Advanced Thermodynamic Cycle
Integrated NTR-ArcJet
Serpent Nuclear-Thermal-Electric Engine
Microwave Electrothermal
Wakefield E-Beam


Electric Sail
Magnetic Sail

Photon Sail

Plasma Magnet


Mass Driver

Motovilov Field Drive


( Langston Photon )

( Beer )

Engine List 2:

Nuclear Thermal

Solid Core

Composite/Cermet Comparison
NERVA Derivative
Pebble Bed
Project Timberwind
Pulsed Solid-core NTR
Russian Twisted Ribbon
Low Pressure NTR
Bi-Modal NTR

  • Basic
  • Monatomic H
  • Hybrid

Liquid Core

Centrifugal NTR
Droplet Core
Vapor Core

Gas Core

Closed Cycle

NASA Report
UAC Report
Squeezing The Last Drop Report
Pulsed Close Cycle

Open Cycle

General Open Cycle
Vortex Confined
Wheel Flow

  • MHD Driven Rotation

Fissioning Plasma Core
RD-600: Soviet bimodal GCNTR

Nuclear Salt Water

Lithium Salt Water

Fission Fragment Type

Fission Fragment
Afterburner Fission Fragment
Fission Sail
Antimatter-Driven Sail



Engine List 3:


Antimatter History
Antimatter Energy
Radiation Shielding

Solid Core
Gas Core
Plasma Core
Antimatter Bottle
Beam Core
Laser Core
Positron Ablative


Fusion Fuels





Inertial Confinement
Electrostatic Inertial
Magnetic Confinement

  • Linear Fusion
  • Toroidal Fusion
  • Direct Fusion Drive

Flow-Stabilized Z-Pinch
Magneto Inertial Confinement

Fusion Engines

Pure Fusion Engines
Afterburner Fusion Engines
Dual-Mode Fusion Engines
Breeder Fusion Engine
Deuterium Microbomb

Thermonuclear Orion
Nuclear Magnetic Spin Alignment

( STARFIRE Fusion Afterburner )
( AV:T Fusion )
( THS Fusion Pulse )
( Epstein Drive )


The Death of Project Orion

Orion Thrust and Isp

Orion Environmental Impact
Weaponized Orion
- Excalibur
- Casaba Howitzer

Atomic Manhole Cover


Zeta-Pinch Fission

  • Mini-Mag Orion
  • Z-pinch Microfission
  • n-Li6 Microfission

Zeta-Pinch Fusion


PuFF Pulsed Fission Fusion

Inertial Confinement
Magneto Inertial Fusion

Thio MTF
Slough FDR
Plasma Jet MIF

Antimatter catalyzed

Radioisotope Positron


  • Tshhmon, for moving the page from Google Docs