For a small Orion nuclear pulse probe that is accelerating to 10% light speed:

What would be the upper G force acceleration limit for electronics, a small thorium based nuclear reactor, pulse units and for the structural integrity to survive and function properly?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You know that thorium is not fissile? Thorium reactors work by making U-233, so you get a lower mass with a regular reactor $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 0:16
  • $\begingroup$ Take a look at this answer, it may be useful for what you are planing to do space.stackexchange.com/a/13256/8693 $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Hohmannfan, i am looking to find out the G-force limit for the components of the spacecraft as well as the actual spacecraft, RTG would be the best option and since it has no moving parts i suspect it can withstand quite a lot of G's. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 2:18
  • $\begingroup$ If you want nuclear propulsion, you might want to look into NTR engines. Waaaay more practical than Orion. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 10:14

2 Answers 2


For a nuclear pulse rocket, the peak acceleration is due to the shock of the push provided by each pulse unit. I struggled a bit trying to find a reference for the G-limit of what shocks electronic equipment can tolerate, but finally found it here. The paper mentions a spaceborne computer system that must tolerate shock levels of up to 450 G's


Typically, nuclear pulse propulsion rockets have the pusher plate mounted on springs, so you may care more about the average acceleration than the peak acceleration.

Commercial payloads are usually rated to around 5g and compact electronics modules for missiles and artillery shells can survive tens of thousands of g (pulsed).


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.