Is there something inherent in the technology of a fission thermal rocket engine that makes it a more expensive endeavour than developing yet another chemical engine? For example because of the handling of radioactive matter, or if it would have to be of much larger scale than what is in demand in the near term. There are some experiences of Nerva and Timberwind. Were those developments markedly more expensive than "ordinary" rocket engine development projects?

  • $\begingroup$ The cleanup has to be a lot more expensive, since the engine is really radioactive after the test and has to be put somewhere safe for stuff to decay for a while. $\endgroup$ – zeta-band Oct 5 '17 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ In order to test such an engine, your local nuclear regulatory agency has to be involved, unlike any chemical rocket engine - if nothing else, the compliance and environmental impact paperwork is going to be expensive. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Oct 6 '17 at 1:47

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