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Author Topic: NASA Keeping Nuclear-thermal Option Open For Mars  (Read 1752 times)

Offline Flyaway

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NASA Keeping Nuclear-thermal Option Open For Mars
« on: October 31, 2016, 02:27:04 pm »
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Safer fuel and a new concept for ground testing have nudged NASA another tiny step in the direction of using hydrogen heated by a small fission reactor to hasten humans on their way to Mars. Nuclear-thermal propulsion (NTP) has been studied since the Apollo era because of the high specific impulse it offers for deep-space missions, but radiation fears and technical difficulties ultimately have blocked it. Now, with low-enriched nuclear fuel instead of bomb-grade material, and what may be a ...

http://m.aviationweek.com/space/nasa-keeping-nuclear-thermal-option-open-mars

Offline blackstar

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Re: NASA Keeping Nuclear-thermal Option Open For Mars
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2016, 03:44:14 pm »
For about a year or so there have been a few articles about this subject along the lines of "NASA is doing stuff on nuclear thermal." Unfortunately, this is 99% PR and 1% reality. I think it is a case of the Glenn Research Center having a few people doing a limited amount of research and hoping that they will get funding for more. But there's no push in the NASA budget to spend the required money--which is a LOT of money. So there's no there there.


Offline hesham

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Re: NASA Keeping Nuclear-thermal Option Open For Mars
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2016, 04:18:10 pm »
We heard about that from 1980s.

Offline Michel Van

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Re: NASA Keeping Nuclear-thermal Option Open For Mars
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2016, 01:10:32 am »
We heard about that from 1980s.

Actually we heard that story in 1960s, 1980s, 1990s and 2004

In 1955 to 1973 it was ROVER/NERVA under Los Alamos, first USAF then by NASA
In 1985 to 1992 it was TIMBERWIND under Los Alamos by USAF
in 2000s NTP under NASA

but all of those machines never saw space or were used there
so what to do to succeed ?
First: stable Funding until Reactor In Flight Test
Second: a Space program that need this engine and keep it alive
Third: Ignore those Panicking Tree hugging Hippies from Greenpeace and love your Nuclear Engine...

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Offline FighterJock

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Re: NASA Keeping Nuclear-thermal Option Open For Mars
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2016, 09:29:56 am »
I have always been a supporter of fission/fusion power for deep space missions beyond the solar system ever since I saw the BIS Project Daedalus in a space book I was reading back in the early 1980's, we need to keep this kind of technology alive so that those in the future can use it to colonize the stars.

Offline George Allegrezza

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Re: NASA Keeping Nuclear-thermal Option Open For Mars
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2016, 10:27:45 am »
For about a year or so there have been a few articles about this subject along the lines of "NASA is doing stuff on nuclear thermal." Unfortunately, this is 99% PR and 1% reality. I think it is a case of the Glenn Research Center having a few people doing a limited amount of research and hoping that they will get funding for more. But there's no push in the NASA budget to spend the required money--which is a LOT of money. So there's no there there.

Stan Borowski and some of the other true believers at Glenn have been analyzing pretty much every conceivable variation of the core NERVA concept (pardon the pun) for many years now.  For example, here's a recent take on a clustered 16.5K lbf option for cislunar and Mars operations:

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20150023036.pdf

I always thought clustering of NTRs was a no-no, but maybe that was when we were looking at 5000 MW and up for the reactors.  The current thinking is a reactor around the 350 MW class and the size of a beer keg.

I got to meet Stan at an AIAA event at MIT right after the end of SEI.  Smart guy and he graciously took the time to chat with a dweeb like me.  I'll bet he would have expected to see one of his designs flying by now, sadly.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2016, 10:43:33 am by George Allegrezza »

Offline Grey Havoc

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Offline Michel Van

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Re: NASA Keeping Nuclear-thermal Option Open For Mars
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2017, 10:24:04 am »
I always thought clustering of NTRs was a no-no, but maybe that was when we were looking at 5000 MW and up for the reactors.  The current thinking is a reactor around the 350 MW class and the size of a beer keg.

I got to meet Stan at an AIAA event at MIT right after the end of SEI.  Smart guy and he graciously took the time to chat with a dweeb like me.  I'll bet he would have expected to see one of his designs flying by now, sadly.

NTR like this need additional shielding if they Cluster, other wise there Neutron flux adding up during operation.
until chain reaction let to new Chernobyl, this time in space !
NTR Cluster need Beryllium shields (that stuff is very toxic) to prevent the Neutron hit other reactors.
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Offline sferrin

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Re: NASA Keeping Nuclear-thermal Option Open For Mars
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2017, 10:25:31 am »
NTR like this need additional shielding if they Cluster, other wise there Neutron flux adding up during operation.
until chain reaction let to new Chernobyl, this time in space !

Doubt it would create a larger nuclear holocaust than the Sun.  ;)
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Offline AndrewN

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Re: NASA Keeping Nuclear-thermal Option Open For Mars
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2017, 03:16:11 am »
The meltdown may not be an evironmental disaster in space but if you are halfway to Mars and you need the reactor to slow you into orbit, that may be a problem...

Offline Michel Van

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Re: NASA Keeping Nuclear-thermal Option Open For Mars
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2017, 09:48:02 am »
The meltdown may not be an evironmental disaster in space but if you are halfway to Mars and you need the reactor to slow you into orbit, that may be a problem...

if that happen, the crew will died fast, because the NTR run at maximum output for some second during melting.
With radiation levels beyond the protection shield specification...
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