May 25, 2012
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They are currently a little behind ion engines in terms of specific impulse and overall efficiency, but high power models have better thrust density. It's gotten really hard to improve the performance / thrust density of ion engines due to the physics of the space charge limit (basically the more ions you pull out of a given area, the more the charge of those ions repels any additional ions you are tyring to pull out.) This is a factor because ion engines eject a positively charged plume (initially all ions.) Hall thrusters eject a quasineutral plasma plume (ions and electrons) and thus are not limited in this way, and so the hope is that they will prove better for scaling up to high powers and thrust densities.
They're pretty compact in terms of length too. There are sweet pictures on google images
May 30, 2012
The “Warp” nacelles will probably not be used or even perfected for a while so I think the disk/dish should be located into the center/ top of the Hull. The disk \"Saucer\" would act as a Hydrogen collector as well as a centrifugal gravity disk. The Hull located in the center portion of the disk would be positioned very well as an Ion propulsion pinch tube. Once the Ion drive is active it should never be slowed or shut down, a retro-satellite solar orbit would be best as it would increase orbital occurrences with almost any planet, especially as velocity increases with time.
Hall effect thrusters are old concepts still in use today. The problem with them is that they do not supply sufficient propulsion in order to accelerate quick enough. They are designed as low flow rate and high exhaust velocity. Which is good for very long term one way trips, but not good for speedy travel. The best systems are probrably not exsplored yet, but if we had to go with one it would probrably be the combination of electrothermal and electromagentic propulsion systems. You can see my full descriptions of them on my blog spacepropulsion.blogspot.com. I have layed out many propulsion systems and their functions in an orderly fasion so you can view them and get an idea of what works best in what situations. I constantly update the blog with new material too.
May 19, 2012
Given that Dan already has a sort of hybrid method for the concept, I figure that, if desired, Hall effect thrusters could be used in transit, while some sort of high thrust engine is used to accelerate out of orbit (and later to propulsively decelerate).
Perhaps a high effency nuclear thermal rocket could be used.
Don't Hall effect thrusters have a higher specific impulse than VASIMR?
If so, that might make them desirable, provided their thrust can be scaled to the design presented.
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