In 1930, Paul Dirac developed the first description of the electron that was consistent with both quantum mechanics and special relativity. One of the remarkable predictions of this theory was that an anti-particle of the electron should exist. This antielectron would be expected to have the same mass as the electron, but opposite electric charge and magnetic moment. In 1932, Carl Anderson, was examining tracks produced by cosmic rays in a cloud chamber. One particle made a track like an electron, but the curvature of its path in the magnetic field showed that it was positively charged. He named this positive electron a positron. We know that the particle Anderson detected was the anti-electron predicted by Dirac. In the 1950's, physicists at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory used the Bevatron accelerator to produce the anti-proton, that is a particle with the same mass and spin as the proton, but with negative charge and opposite magnetic moment to that of the proton. In order to create the anti-proton, protons were accelerated to very high energy and then smashed into a target containing other protons. Occasionally, the energy brought into the collision would produce a proton-antiproton pair in addition to the original two protons. This result gave credibility to the idea that for every particle there is a corresponding antiparticle.
An antimatter rocket is a proposed class of rockets that use antimatter as their power source. There are several types of design that attempt to accomplish this goal. The advantage to this class of rocket is that a large fraction of the rest mass of a matter/antimatter mixture may be converted to energy, allowing antimatter rockets to have a far higher energy density and specific impulse than any other proposed class of rocket.
Antimatter rockets can be divided into three types: those that directly use the products of antimatter annihilation for propulsion, those that heat a working fluid which is then used for propulsion, and those that heat a working fluid to generate electricity for some form of electric spacecraft propulsion system.
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