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danielost

Nuclear rocket

8 posts in this topic

After reading the topic of glider launch. I remembered a gentleman who told me that we had a nuclear rocket launch design.

Why couldn't we use a launch vechal that used jet fuel at take off then switch to the nuke to get into any orber we wanted. I don't think that would require two types of heavy fuel, that using a chemical rocket would need.

Edited by danielost

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I think he's thinking of Ion propulsion.

Here's a link to NASA's site: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/about/fs21grc.html

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No he meant nukes. He said a chem. rocket was a car and a nuke was a truck. I know about the ion engine nasa has one in space rightnow astriod hopping.

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I know about the ion engine nasa has one in space rightnow astriod hopping.

Yes, but Dawn, like all other ion drive missions so far is solar electric not nuclear electric, in other words the power for the engine comes from solar panels not a nuclear reactor.

I think your friend is talking about project Orion, which was a project to make a nuclear bomb powered rocket between 1958 and 1963. No vehicle was ever built and the test ban treaty of 1963, which banned nuclear tests in the atmosphere, basically brought it to an end.

Much of the technology is still classified as it required very small nuclear weapons, which would be extremely useful to a rogue nation/terrorist group.

Why couldn't we use a launch vechal that used jet fuel at take off then switch to the nuke to get into any orber we wanted. I don't think that would require two types of heavy fuel, that using a chemical rocket would need.

Jets can only operate inside the atmosphere, whilst they can be useful for launching a rocket at about 5 miles up they are not capable of replacing the rocket itself.

They would be unsuitable for project Orion as that would still require nuclear detonations inside the atmosphere.

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Remember that voyger and pioneer are powered by nukes. But I was talking propulson. You may be correct about the treaty. But as I said, my friend said it had more power than we needed at the time.

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Remember that voyger and pioneer are powered by nukes. But I was talking propulson.

The term nuke is generally used to mean nuclear weapon. It would be stretching the term nuke to breaking point to describe the Voyagers and Pioneers power source in this way.

Electrical power is provided by Radioisotope Thermal Generators (RTGs). These use the natural decay of radioactive materials to generate heat. This heat is, in turn, converted to electrical power. Curiosity, Galileo and Cassini all either use or have used these generators, although of the Pioneer vehicles only Pioneer 10 & 11 did, all the other Pioneers used either batteries or solar arrays.

As you said though, you were talking about propulsion, so why you brought up this irrelevance isn't really clear.

You may be correct about the treaty.

There is no "maybe" about it. Project Orion WAS ended mostly as a result of the atmospheric test ban treaty. I don't just make stuff up. Research is your friend Daniel, give it a go some time.

In this case my research is based on the book, Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship by George Dyson. The author is the son of Freeman Dyson, a physicist who worked on the project and the book was written after extensive interviews with those scientist who were still alive at the time (the book was published in 2002.

But as I said, my friend said it had more power than we needed at the time.

Either your friend is very vague or your understanding of what your friend said is very vague (or both). The problem is that it is very difficult to give a precise, well informed answer to a vague, ill informed question.

The reason I thought you meant Project Orion is because of your, rather loose, usage of the word "nukes". I made the rash assumption that you were using "nuke" in the more usual context but your use of it to describe the power systems of the Voyager and Pioneers suggests that I assumed incorrectly.

Orion was based on nuclear weapons but as I've already explained, it most certainly was not cancelled because it was too powerful.

Given your use of the word nuke it is possible that you are talking about project Rover (1955-19720 which developed the NERVA engine (Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application). This was planned to be fitted to a nuclear upper stage of a Saturn V and would have powered NASAs manned Mars missions. Again it was not cancelled because it was too powerful, it was cancelled because the funding was withdrawn before a useful vehicle could be produced.

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf
typos.

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www.newscientist.com/article/dn12148-nuclear-rockets-could-cut-cost-of-moon-base

I was off a little, but only because of safety factor.

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www.newscientist.com/article/dn12148-nuclear-rockets-could-cut-cost-of-moon-base

I was off a little, but only because of safety factor.

But I don't see any reason you couldn't use this to get off the moon or mars. Although, I think an ion engine for the trip between earth and other planets and dwarf planets.

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