Questions tagged [nuclear]

Questions regarding the use of nuclear devices in space exploration, e.g. to power or propel spacecraft.

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Are DUMBO, TIMBERWIND, and other high-thrust NTRs realistically going to deliver on promises of very high thrust/weight?

Nuclear thermal rockets (NTRs) are notable as the most mature technology (the second-most-mature is Project Orion) to provide both high thrust and higher specific impulse than chemical rockets. But "...
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4 votes
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What are the non-technical barriers to creating a practical nuclear propulsion system?

You can carve it however you want - it can be purely extra-orbital, it can be NERVA, it can be Orion. What are the specific legal and political barriers that prevent it from being implemented?
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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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2 votes
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What are the nuclear energy challenges specific to the moon?

What are moon specific hurdles to a fission reactor? low gravity no atmosphere Apparently it's more difficult to shed heat in a vacuum. Are some coolants more advantageous on the moon than others? ...
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Highest frequencies of EMPs in space

When a nuke detonates, an EMP at about 100 MHz followd. A pulsar on the other hand, has a comparatively low frequency, and while I know that this frequency depends on its spin and doesn't represent ...
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How much CO₂ could the wind through a tunnel within the deposit near the south pole of Mars sublimate?

Within the CO₂ deposit near the south pole of Mars, according to this article 3 subunits have been found with one having the top CO₂ layer of about 300 meters thick covered by a water ice layer with a ...
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Would the EMP from atmospheric polar nuclear detonations on Mars felt by orbiting spacecraft be larger or smaller than (if it were) on Earth?

Gizmodo's Watch Elon Musk Describe Terraforming Mars to Stephen Colbert links to the video (shown below). Their second article Elon Musk Clarifies His Plan to "Nuke Mars" quotes Musk from a ...
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1 vote
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Are there any designs for fusion engines with similar performance to a nuclear lightbulb?

Are there any fusion thrusters with a twr > 1 and an isp of a couple thousand seconds?
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Realistic cost of pulse units for nuclear pulse propulsion?

Nuclear pulse propulsion https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion) was believed to be - by it proponents - far superior to chemical propulsion. Either because max. delta v you ...
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Are fission thermal engines more expensive to develop than chemical engines?

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 ...
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