Questions tagged [nuclear-propulsion]

Questions regarding use of nuclear power for propulsion in space, including both nuclear rockets such as nuclear thermal or fusion rockets, and the use of nuclear reactors to power ion or other electrical thrusters.

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What's the typical temperature of a reactor core in a nuclear thermal rocket?

I am curious of the typical temperature of a nuclear fission reactor in a NTR and I heard that increasing temperature could increase Isp but couldn't find any useful data online. Please provide viable ...
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2 votes
0 answers
87 views

Are VASIMR + Arcjet engines feasible for orbital transfers on Mars?

The VASIMR engine is an electric propulsion system that has been lauded for its ability to cut down on interplanetary transfers. While it requires a high power source (in the range of 200kW), it is a ...
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6 votes
2 answers
239 views

Alternative propellants in nuclear thermal rockets

Many years ago, I read a science fiction story "Rocket Ship Galileo" in which a nuclear powered spacecraft used zinc as a propellant. Apart from the fanciful nature of the story itself, I ...
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Are nuclear thermal engine designs limited to about twice the Isp of existing chemical rocket engines? If so, why; what's the limiting factor?

Discussion below With Ultra Safe Nuclear engines and hydrogen propellant, how far to Mars could you get and still be able to return to Earth in an emergency? including a comment that suggests that the ...
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With Ultra Safe Nuclear engines and hydrogen propellant, how far to Mars could you get and still be able to return to Earth in an emergency?

The NPR news item (audio + transcript) Could Nuclear Power Aid In Travel To Mars? contains the following: VISHAL PATEL: If you want to go to Mars, nuclear is a smart choice. BRUMFIEL: Vishal Patel is ...
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Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies (USNC-Tech) has delivered a design concept to NASA, but what does NASA consider a "design concept" to be?

The 19-Oct-2020 Press Release Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies Delivers Advanced Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Design To NASA begins: SEATTLE, Oct. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Ultra Safe Nuclear ...
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Details about Rolls-Royce / UK Space Agency's nuclear propulsion?

The UK Space Agency, on 2021 Jan 12, announced a research contract with Rolls-Royce for nuclear propulsion of spacecraft, based on R-R's experience with nuclear power for submarines. The press ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Are power nuclear reactors (including advanced designs) really vastly less "aggressive" in design than NTR cores?

It is my understanding that solid-core nuclear thermal rocket reactors are extremely aggressive designs that operate at the limits of materials and have an incredibly high specific thermal power. Do ...
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What is the limit on ISP for cooled physical nozzles -- and how hard is it?

High performance chemical rockets, as well as hypothetical gas-core nuclear thermal rockets, can operate with chamber temperatures above the failure point of any available substance, because internal ...
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3 votes
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Tools for high-thrust trajectory optimization

I've tried using some of the freely available tools for making pork chop plots to explore the potential of transfers between planets. But as far as I can tell, these really are not designed for and do ...
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7 votes
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Is the propulsion for the Scorpion nuclear-thermal-electric ship concept viable and credible?

Recently I've come across the proposal for the "Scorpion" spacecraft -- I originally ran across it on Project Rho (ctrl-F for it) but it looks like the article was published in the journal ...
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Is "nuclear electrothermal" a recognized term for a specific technology?

Is the term "nuclear electrothermal" recognized as referring to a specific type of propulsion technology (specifically, the nuclear thermal rocket with heat engine and arcjet afterburner)?
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Competing designs for nuclear pulse-propelled spaceships [duplicate]

I have been doing research on Project Orion. This was a canceled NASA program to build massive spaceships that were blasted into space by exploding nuclear charges. I have seen two schools of design ...
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3 answers
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Prior to putting spacecraft on a trajectory going a significant fraction of the speed of light, would some things need to be tested on Earth?

Except for particle accelerators, I don't think we have made any macro object go anywhere near the speeds planned for spacecraft like the one planned in Project Orion. But would there be something ...
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(Possibly fictional) Can you locate this mysterious Project Orion design with NERVA engines as RCS?

Some years ago, I happened to see a drawing of a hypothetical Project Orion (the Nuclear Pulse Propulsion one) type spaceship, that had the notable (and highly questionable, IMO) feature of having a ...
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9 votes
2 answers
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Could a thermal nuclear propulsion double as a nuclear reactor?

Nuclear thermal propulsion takes hydrogen and introduces it to enriched uranium that then heats up the gas and expels it to create thrust. Could you use also use the uranium to heat up water instead ...
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3 votes
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Can we re-fuel solid-core nuclear thermal rockets?

Most solid-core nuclear rocket designs seem to have a rather short fuel lifetime (and one that wastes most of the uranium or plutonium) due to the buildup of fission products (combined with the very ...
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Is there any way to get better performance from an NTR with non-H2 propellant?

Related: Is there some fundamental limitation that would prevent steam-powered rockets from reaching space? Thermal rockets, including nuclear thermal rockets, work best with minimal molecular weight ...
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4 votes
2 answers
386 views

Could a nuclear thermal rocket take off from the surface of the Moon?

Could a nuclear thermal rocket take off from the surface of the Moon? The application is a shuttle from LEO to the Lunar surface. Fairly recent NASA plans include an NTR LEO to LLO shuttle, but use ...
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What is the basis of the new Russian nuclear rocket propulsion?

The New York Times' Russia Confirms Radioactive Materials Were Involved in Deadly Blast discusses the potential nuclear aspects of the recent missile test and references several time the possibility ...
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