Nuclear pulse propulsion seemed to be quite actively researched up until the 1990's, with a few projects that saw some rather promising results (some that could theoretically reach over 4% light speed.)

However, it all seems to have gone a bit quiet since then - is there any ongoing research into this area, or have plans been shelved for now? For a very promising technology (on the surface at least) that could hugely cut journey times, it seems a shame if not much is being invested in it.


1 Answer 1


This article, titled Nuclear Pulse Propulsion Re-Examined, was published in late '05.

There is also this article, which was posted in early '12.

Unfortunately, despite much Googling, I wasn't able to find any real research on the subject after about the '90s, when Project Medusa was started by NASA.

  • $\begingroup$ .. so you could answer that question with "no, not as of summer 2013"? $\endgroup$
    – mart
    Jul 17, 2013 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ @mart: I would say there is a minimal amount of work in the last 2 decades, but no real research as of summer 2013. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Jul 17, 2013 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ @PearsonArtPhoto - directed energy weapons' work is still classified, and that's where Orion's pulse units come in. Larger engineering work still needs some re-design, though. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2015 at 9:40
  • $\begingroup$ Recent work on nuclear pulse propulsion has tended to be heavily conflated with inertial-confinement fusion and Z-pinch. $\endgroup$
    – ikrase
    Jun 26, 2019 at 5:48

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