The British Rail flying saucer, officially known simply as space vehicle, was a proposed spacecraft designed by Charles Osmond Frederick.
The flying saucer originally started as a proposal for a lifting platform. However, the project was revised and edited, and by the time the patent was filed had become a large passenger craft for interplanetary travel.
The craft was to be powered by nuclear fusion, using laser beams to produce pulses of nuclear energy in a generator in the centre of the craft, at a rate of over 1000 Hz to prevent resonance, which could damage the vehicle. The pulses of energy would then have been transferred out of a nozzle into a series of radial electrodes running along the underside of the craft, which would have converted the energy into electricity that would then pass into a ring of powerful electromagnets (the patent describes using superconductors if possible). These magnets would accelerate subatomic particles emitted by the fusion reaction, providing lift and thrust. This general design was used in several fusion rocket studies.
A layer of thick metal running above the fusion reactor would have acted as a shield to protect the passengers above from the radiation emitted from the core of the reactor. The entire vehicle would be piloted in such a way that the acceleration and deceleration of the craft would have simulated gravity in zero gravity conditions.
The patent lapsed in 1976 due to non-payment of renewal fees.
- Alan Hamilton (13 March 2006). "The next service to arrive at platform twelve will be... a flying saucer". The Times. London. Retrieved 2007-03-17.
- GB 1310990 British Railways Board: "Space vehicle"