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Russian nuclear propulsion spacecraft "Nuklon"

QuadroFX

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Nuclear propulsion spacecraft "Nuklon" / "Нуклон" / "Nucleon" also known as TEM / ТЭМ ( Transport and Energy Module ) / Транспортно-Энергетический Модуль / Transportno-Energeticheskiy Modul' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TEM_(nuclear_propulsion)



The assembly process has started! :cool:

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View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx1r84BY4x8

First target - Jupiter, until 2030:
 
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flanker

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Interesting to say the least. I assume the build in progress is a static mock up to test subsystems and overall architecture?
 

Josh_TN

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nuclear propulsion is one area where the US is sorely lacking. If we're ever going to get to the outer planets with people, nuclear power will have to be placed in orbit.
 

edwest

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I doubt nuclear propulsion will be found to be useful. The shielding required adds a lot of mass. I see multistage chemical rockets being assembled on the Moon or Mars, or the asteroid belt. For interstellar travel, the problem is the time it takes to get to the nearest solar system. A space drive operating at a speed of four light years per hour would make such trips practical. Until then, only automated probes traveling at slower speeds.
 
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Dr.Snufflebug

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I doubt nuclear propulsion will be found to be useful. The shielding required adds a lot of mass. I see multistage chemical rockets being assembled on the Moon or Mars, or the asteroid belt. For interstellar travel, the problem is the time it takes to get to the nearest solar system. A space drive operating at a speed of four light years per hour would make such trips practical. Until then, only automated probes traveling at slower speeds.
Not sure if I am misunderstanding you here, or if you are suggesting that while people happily sit through a 12½ hour flight to park their pale butts on a beach in Thailand, professional astronauts wouldn't sit through a 1½ hour trip to Proxima Centauri? The closest star system with earth-like exoplanets is just 4.2 lightyears away.

I mean, you could be talking about relativistic effects (time dilation and what not) that I am not even going to pretend I understand, but 4c is beyond what is permissible by relativistic physics anyway. That's Alcubierre drive territory (where relativistic effects are bypassed, in a loose sense).

On topic, nuclear things should be researched and developed, I'm all for it both here and in space. It's the most energy dense fuel we have tamed (somewhat) and it would be silly to just let it sit there only because some people are scared of it. Black powder and other early explosives killed, maimed or injured at huge percentage of the people tasked with working with it at first, but now we got it down to an art and they're better and safer (for the operators) than ever, to the point where you could put a potentially neighborhood-flattening charge of C4 in a bag and use it for boxing practice without any risk whatsoever.

I am aware that the risks are higher than some localized damage when it comes to nuclear technology, but one thing is for sure - it's not going to get safer if we aren't actively working on it. And it's the most powerful thing we've got, so we are obliged to in my opinion, if we want to expand our horizons in the truest sense, which I'd argue is our "fate".

Just think that close-up images of the Alpha Centauri system taken by an interstellar fly-by probe could have been received by us around this time, 2020, if the Orion project had gotten a full go-ahead, past the conventional-explosive test vehicles (which, by the way, showed that the concept was viable in practice). At a projected max speed of up to 0.1c, had it been launched in the 1960's or 70's, it could have reached the star already and the images could have been received already.

I often think about that, and the excitement of receiving the most distant and most redshifted anthropogenic radio signal ever. Alas, there was a general scare about the project (not unfounded), ecological concerns (not unfounded) and cost concerns (certainly not unfounded), so everything was up against it. But regardless of these very obvious constraints, it was (is?) technology we actually, conceivably possess, the means to fling a probe at a mind-boggling 10% of the speed of light (top velocity after entire acceleration phase, of course).
 
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edwest

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Fear is not the issue. The United States worked for many years to develop nuclear propulsion. The concern is protecting frail astronauts from excess ionizing radiation. This is a concern for traveling to Mars, much less for longer trips. Planets have been discovered around distant stars, but time will be the key limiting factor when thinking about getting astronauts to something closer, like the outer planets. In the case of solar systems that are 4.2 light years away, a different propulsion system needs to be made. Concepts that are beyond any limit we currently think about. If not, there is no way to send men outside of our own solar system. Food and water would not be available to them in sufficient quantity for one thing.
 

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Isn't nuclear reactor an Alpha and Beta emitter mainly ? These two are the most dangerous of ionizing radiation but easily stopped. There is Gamma one which need lead but i think for real long range space travel, one would needs heavy shielding anyway because of Galactic cosmic radiation and Solar flares, these are 3 Dimensional in nature thus need basically 360 deg shielding.
 

Dr.Snufflebug

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Isn't nuclear reactor an Alpha and Beta emitter mainly ? These two are the most dangerous of ionizing radiation but easily stopped. There is Gamma one which need lead but i think for real long range space travel, one would needs heavy shielding anyway because of Galactic cosmic radiation and Solar flares, these are 3 Dimensional in nature thus need basically 360 deg shielding.
The radiation scare in outer space is way overblown.

First of all: Astronauts and cosmonauts have been messing around in space for almost 60 years, with long-duration missions happening ever since 1965 (Gemini 5 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit for a week straight). Since then it's just gone up, by the mid-1990's four Russian cosmonauts had spent more than a year each in space, in one go, without interruption. There are some others that have achieved similar total "on-orbit" times, but in their case it's been over several spaceflights, with some good "Earth-time" in between.

These guys and gals have flown through the van Allen radiation belts thousands of times, they've left Earth orbit altogether and gone to the Moon, they've experienced solar eruptions (vast amounts of high-energy EM radiation like X-rays and gamma rays always precede the waves of neutron-alpha-beta particle radiation, and they're practically "instant" and thus more or less unforseeable unlike the latter) outside of the Earth's protective atmosphere and on the fringes of its likewise protective magnetic field too.

It's not a biggie. They've got adequate shielding even on the ISS, even though they sometimes have to gather in some of the more protected modules during especially violent space weather.

The further from the Sun you go the less issues you get. Super-high energy cosmic gamma ray bursts are a potential problem, but they're a problem here on our planetary surface too, and no close energetic ones are expected (they typically come from dying stars, and we have a fair idea of possible future candidates that are close enough to matter to us). So cosmic radiation on an insterstellar mission should be no bigger of an issue than what our spacefarers since 1961 have experienced. Actually, once they leave the vicinity of the sun far less so, until they reach the Alpha Centauri system, where the good old "being close to a star" thing repeats itself again.

The radiation from the fuel/propulsion itself is no biggie either. Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China all operate nuclear-powered submarines, where a bunch of people are stuck in a tin can, surrounded by a hostile environment, with a couple of nuclear reactors in the back of the vehicle keeping everything cozy. Live nuclear reactors have flown in space multiple times too (not counting the vast amount of RTGs, that aren't reactors but do contain nuclear fuels). Don't see how that'd be an issue. The potential issues in an Orion-type vehicle would be the blast power and heat acting on the pusher plate. Purely physical/mechanical stuff, not so much the radiation, as we know how to block that in a mobile, manned platform already.

But anyway, that all is just a hypothetical. We could possibly send a probe to the nearest star system, using some Orion-like contraption, and have it whizz by it in our lifetime. We could probably have done it 50 years ago, and reap the fruit of this mission just about now.

Manned ships require so much additional stuff that it is not viable, and it is not going to be a return mission even if you could somehow squeeze 40+ years of life support in an interstellar Orion-esque ship, as it'd require a second Orion with the same amount of propulsive force to brake and enter orbit, and a THIRD Orion to boost it towards Earth again, and apart from that, another 40+years of life support for the return trip. And the braking and return would take quite some time, prolonging the journey even further. Besides, even the most physically fit humans don't even reliably reach 80, let alone 100-150-200, heh, and I'd imagine you'd want someone older than a newborn toddler on the vessel to begin with.

But for unmanned probes, and manned exploration within the solar system, hell yes.

...And, I must add, the radiation scare while these things would be taking off, from Earth, is a whooooole other issue than what would be faced by the occupants while on a mission.

That's one of the main concerns that killed Orion, the launch sequence. First of all, nobody wants a bunch of nukes going off in quick succession in the atmosphere, after all there's an international ban on atmospheric nuclear testing and all. And what if something goes wrong, regular chemical rockets are notoriously difficult to deal with and every now and then one just blows up... A nuclear rocket is even more "rocket science"... What if an Orion vehicle blows up during take-off? Nuclear explosions are already part of the entire thing, but even if the risk of some kind of continuous fission or fusion is negligible, once everything's blown up, there's going to be highly radioactive debris flying everywhere.

Etc, etc, etc. Still though... Mmmm.
 
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Dilandu

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Fear is not the issue. The United States worked for many years to develop nuclear propulsion. The concern is protecting frail astronauts from excess ionizing radiation.
Newsflash: shadow shields. Look at Nuklone: the reactor is at the very end of long and narrow craft. Directly in front of reactor is a small radiation shield, which created a "shadow" in which the rest of the craft is placed.
 

Dilandu

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What if an Orion vehicle blows up during take-off? Nuclear explosions are already part of the entire thing, but even if the risk of some kind of continuous fission or fusion is negligible, once everything's blown up, there's going to be highly radioactive debris flying everywhere.
Well, one solution is to launch the ship & its nuclear charges indepedently, putting drive charges in specially-designed crafts, which would have similar safety features as manned crafts (i.e. being capable of eject from booster & land safely even in worst-case scenario).
 

stealthflanker

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Isn't nuclear reactor an Alpha and Beta emitter mainly ? These two are the most dangerous of ionizing radiation but easily stopped. There is Gamma one which need lead but i think for real long range space travel, one would needs heavy shielding anyway because of Galactic cosmic radiation and Solar flares, these are 3 Dimensional in nature thus need basically 360 deg shielding.
The radiation scare in outer space is way overblown.

First of all: Astronauts and cosmonauts have been messing around in space for almost 60 years, with long-duration missions happening ever since 1965 (Gemini 5 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit for a week straight). Since then it's just gone up, by the mid-1990's four Russian cosmonauts had spent more than a year each in space, in one go, without interruption. There are some others that have achieved similar total "on-orbit" times, but in their case it's been over several spaceflights, with some good "Earth-time" in between.

These guys and gals have flown through the van Allen radiation belts thousands of times, they've left Earth orbit altogether and gone to the Moon, they've experienced solar eruptions (vast amounts of high-energy EM radiation like X-rays and gamma rays always precede the waves of neutron-alpha-beta particle radiation, and they're practically "instant" and thus more or less unforseeable unlike the latter) outside of the Earth's protective atmosphere and on the fringes of its likewise protective magnetic field too.

It's not a biggie. They've got adequate shielding even on the ISS, even though they sometimes have to gather in some of the more protected modules during especially violent space weather.

The further from the Sun you go the less issues you get. Super-high energy cosmic gamma ray bursts are a potential problem, but they're a problem here on our planetary surface too, and no close energetic ones are expected (they typically come from dying stars, and we have a fair idea of possible future candidates that are close enough to matter to us). So cosmic radiation on an insterstellar mission should be no bigger of an issue than what our spacefarers since 1961 have experienced. Actually, once they leave the vicinity of the sun far less so, until they reach the Alpha Centauri system, where the good old "being close to a star" thing repeats itself again.

The radiation from the fuel/propulsion itself is no biggie either. Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China all operate nuclear-powered submarines, where a bunch of people are stuck in a tin can, surrounded by a hostile environment, with a couple of nuclear reactors in the back of the vehicle keeping everything cozy. Live nuclear reactors have flown in space multiple times too (not counting the vast amount of RTGs, that aren't reactors but do contain nuclear fuels). Don't see how that'd be an issue. The potential issues in an Orion-type vehicle would be the blast power and heat acting on the pusher plate. Purely physical/mechanical stuff, not so much the radiation, as we know how to block that in a mobile, manned platform already.

But anyway, that all is just a hypothetical. We could possibly send a probe to the nearest star system, using some Orion-like contraption, and have it whizz by it in our lifetime. We could probably have done it 50 years ago, and reap the fruit of this mission just about now.
Well the one which really went outside the Van Allen Belt was Apollo. and its in days of duration. Rests of manned orbital space flight has been below the Van Allen belt and well within the protection of Earth's Magnetosphere. ISS, Soyuz, Skylab all long term human space habitation are within the field of Magnetosphere which provides the shield against space radiations. Mars flight would be a very different animal as it would goes beyond Earth and in the middle of nothing in between for months.
 

Rhinocrates

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Scraping the bottom of the barrel of my memory were, but while cost killed JIMO (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Icy_Moons_Orbiter), one objection was that the vibration caused by the Stirling cycle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_cycle) generator would be too upsetting to the instruments that required high stability. I can think of one way around this, which is that you use a reusable ion or plasma propelled nuclear tug that would in time return to transport more probes/orbiters using conventional RTGs. The problem with this is that it assumes continuing support for funding and exploration for decades, which is not considered in any current programme. It would be nice to see a programme to develop a small fleet of reusable deep space tugs using nuclear ion or plasma propulsion that could deliver orbiters to various locations about the solar system. Carry an orbiter to Jupiter, and a few years later it's back to pick up one to carry to Uranus, and a decade later it's ready to take one to Pluto. An idea that I humbly propose that would require assured long-term planning and funding. I applaud the concepts of laser-propelled chipsats, and while the infrastructure would be reusable, the thinking is still that missions are 'one-shot', not part of a continuing, sustained programme, and the concept is not scaleable to extend to crewed transport.
 
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Dr.Snufflebug

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Isn't nuclear reactor an Alpha and Beta emitter mainly ? These two are the most dangerous of ionizing radiation but easily stopped. There is Gamma one which need lead but i think for real long range space travel, one would needs heavy shielding anyway because of Galactic cosmic radiation and Solar flares, these are 3 Dimensional in nature thus need basically 360 deg shielding.
The radiation scare in outer space is way overblown.

First of all: Astronauts and cosmonauts have been messing around in space for almost 60 years, with long-duration missions happening ever since 1965 (Gemini 5 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit for a week straight). Since then it's just gone up, by the mid-1990's four Russian cosmonauts had spent more than a year each in space, in one go, without interruption. There are some others that have achieved similar total "on-orbit" times, but in their case it's been over several spaceflights, with some good "Earth-time" in between.

These guys and gals have flown through the van Allen radiation belts thousands of times, they've left Earth orbit altogether and gone to the Moon, they've experienced solar eruptions (vast amounts of high-energy EM radiation like X-rays and gamma rays always precede the waves of neutron-alpha-beta particle radiation, and they're practically "instant" and thus more or less unforseeable unlike the latter) outside of the Earth's protective atmosphere and on the fringes of its likewise protective magnetic field too.

It's not a biggie. They've got adequate shielding even on the ISS, even though they sometimes have to gather in some of the more protected modules during especially violent space weather.

The further from the Sun you go the less issues you get. Super-high energy cosmic gamma ray bursts are a potential problem, but they're a problem here on our planetary surface too, and no close energetic ones are expected (they typically come from dying stars, and we have a fair idea of possible future candidates that are close enough to matter to us). So cosmic radiation on an insterstellar mission should be no bigger of an issue than what our spacefarers since 1961 have experienced. Actually, once they leave the vicinity of the sun far less so, until they reach the Alpha Centauri system, where the good old "being close to a star" thing repeats itself again.

The radiation from the fuel/propulsion itself is no biggie either. Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China all operate nuclear-powered submarines, where a bunch of people are stuck in a tin can, surrounded by a hostile environment, with a couple of nuclear reactors in the back of the vehicle keeping everything cozy. Live nuclear reactors have flown in space multiple times too (not counting the vast amount of RTGs, that aren't reactors but do contain nuclear fuels). Don't see how that'd be an issue. The potential issues in an Orion-type vehicle would be the blast power and heat acting on the pusher plate. Purely physical/mechanical stuff, not so much the radiation, as we know how to block that in a mobile, manned platform already.

But anyway, that all is just a hypothetical. We could possibly send a probe to the nearest star system, using some Orion-like contraption, and have it whizz by it in our lifetime. We could probably have done it 50 years ago, and reap the fruit of this mission just about now.
Well the one which really went outside the Van Allen Belt was Apollo. and its in days of duration. Rests of manned orbital space flight has been below the Van Allen belt and well within the protection of Earth's Magnetosphere. ISS, Soyuz, Skylab all long term human space habitation are within the field of Magnetosphere which provides the shield against space radiations. Mars flight would be a very different animal as it would goes beyond Earth and in the middle of nothing in between for months.
The Apollo missions were the only manned missions to go outside of it all, yes. Not the only missions with live animals to go beyond though, as for example Zond 5 flew animals to the moon and back, and recovered them in good health, too.

But the Van Allen belts aren't orderly distributed as in the popular illustrations, they're actually kind of warped and uneven due to perturbations in the Earth's magnetic field. The ISS and other manned spacecraft in history that have flown in regular Earth orbits do fly straight through the innermost belt every now and then, as it dips down quite a lot towards the surface. This phenomenon, popularly known as the "South Atlantic Anomaly" is a due to a geomagnetic region centered on southern Brazil that sucks the inner Van Allen belt towards the Earth, with the "tip" of the belt reaching as far down as a mere 200km above sea level. The ISS orbits at around 400km give or take (it varies somewhat due to atmospheric braking and occasional orbital boosts), so whenever it crosses that part it's a good 200km into the thick of said radiation belt.

Just saying.

When the ISS goes there, or when a violent solar eruption occurs, the crew gathers in the more well-shielded sections. So we already have that.

Also, as we've flown unmanned probes all over the solar system we do have a good idea about what kind of (nominal) radiation hazards are out there, and they're not particularly troublesome, really.
 

Orionblamblam

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even if you could somehow squeeze 40+ years of life support in an interstellar Orion-esque ship...
... you'd end up with your crew dying before they reached the Oort cloud. An Orion-type vessel would take a few thousand years to get to the next star, so using one as a manned starship seems a bit cruel.

nobody wants a bunch of nukes going off in quick succession in the atmosphere,
Sez you. Who wants a long string of nukes going on in the atmosphere? I DO.



What if an Orion vehicle blows up during take-off?
Then you end up with an inert chunk of iron falling from the sky, filled with pulse units that are less likely to explode than an autistic brick. These things would be tougher to blow up unintentionally than atomic artillery shells.
 

stealthflanker

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The Apollo missions were the only manned missions to go outside of it all, yes. Not the only missions with live animals to go beyond though, as for example Zond 5 flew animals to the moon and back, and recovered them in good health, too.
Yeah and animals and plants sent by Soviets to the moon are :

-Tortoises
-Fruit Flies
-Spiderworts

Well Tortoises are maybe like twice as hardened or at least this article claims that it can "man up" tens of thousands of Rems

Spiderworts are even known as a "Living geiger counter"

Like, can we really take them as representative to claim that "radiation isnt much of problem" ? Considering that they are already familiar and even more resistant to human to radiation exposure.

Maybe if they sent Dogs or cats or chimps, would be more representative.

Chinese sent Silkworms which can man up to 15000 Rem.


But the Van Allen belts aren't orderly distributed as in the popular illustrations, they're actually kind of warped and uneven due to perturbations in the Earth's magnetic field. The ISS and other manned spacecraft in history that have flown in regular Earth orbits do fly straight through the innermost belt every now and then, as it dips down quite a lot towards the surface. This phenomenon, popularly known as the "South Atlantic Anomaly" is a due to a geomagnetic region centered on southern Brazil that sucks the inner Van Allen belt towards the Earth, with the "tip" of the belt reaching as far down as a mere 200km above sea level. The ISS orbits at around 400km give or take (it varies somewhat due to atmospheric braking and occasional orbital boosts), so whenever it crosses that part it's a good 200km into the thick of said radiation belt.
Yeah and how long it took to cross the anomaly and then back to the safe haven of magnetosphere ? 6 months like Mars trip ?


Also, as we've flown unmanned probes all over the solar system we do have a good idea about what kind of (nominal) radiation hazards are out there, and they're not particularly troublesome, really.
Err then why this ?

 
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