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Rockets, nukes and explosions, oh my: so what happened near Nyonoksa, Russia?

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posted on Aug, 10 2019 @ 03:23 PM
Something strange happened this past week near Nyonoksa, Russia. There was an explosion. There was a radiation spike. Five Russian personnel were killed. Information is dribbling out. The Russians are slowly fessing up to what happened. However, details are very, very elusive and there is an enormous amount of speculation.

Nyonoksa, Russia is in the Archangelsk Oblast (district) near Severodinsk and Archangels. It is located off the east shore of the White Sea and in the general vicinity of a lot of Russian naval bases. Map link. The accident or incident didn't happen at the town itself though, but rather at a site nearby.

On August 8th, an accident took place. The accident was supposedly due to rocket fuel catching fire and five people have so far have died. The reports initially just stated there was an accident with a rocket. This happens rockets having far, far more energy stored in them than even a 747 and when precautions are not sufficiently taken, people die. It even happens here: ask the Challenger astronauts or Virgin Galactic employees. It would have been a tragedy rather than a mystery.

But then...

Radiation counters spiked in in Nyonoksa, Russia and elsewhere. The radiation levels spiked to 20x the norm. And then returned to normal within days. Even possibly a day. The Norwegians reported no spike in Norway. Therein lies the mystery.

Had this been a case where a nuclear weapon or whatnot had had a subcritical explosion, the fallout would have contaminated the area and the radiation would be persistent and VERY detectable with the cloud it would have generated in Norway. Yet it did not. Whatever caused the spike did so with a gas or something very transiently and easily dispersible.

The Moscow initially denied there was no radiation spike. They originally stated there was an explosion with a liquid fuel rocket engine. Now they are saying the stating the 5 killed were working on iso tope power sources.' Yet, they still deny the radiation release: the city of Nyonoksa stated there was a radiation spike though and there was a run on iodine in town (iodine can protect the thyroid from radiation damage).

This has increased the speculation as to what happened. The Warzone (and others) have suggested there was an explosion related to the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile the Russians have been working on. This uses an exposed nuclear reactor to heat air into providing thrust. This was explored by the US in Project Pluto back in the 1960s/1970s. A premature or accidental test run would fit the profile for the radiation spike, but would not be a match for the description of an explosion: the engine exhaust can be radioactive even if no radioactive material from the engine is lost. The workers being present when the engine started and unexpectedly would also fit why they died and what they were doing.


If the workers were killed in an accidental test, it would be a massive case of negligence. Worse than that, actually. Heads ought to be rolling so much that Putin could field a bowling team using the severed heads as bowling balls.

Burevestnik is an air launched weapon. Russia has been testing it over in Siberia. Archangelsk's area is more purely naval. The location seems rather strange for the Burevestnik then unless they were working on it to integrate with naval assets. Possible, but strangely premature. The weapon is still in very early testing and the flight regime is still being expanded. Adding the capability to, say, the Tu-144 Backfires, would be really dumb at this point. Likewise attempting to do the same with a sub or surface ship is also stupid: with money tight in the Russian defense budget, getting the missile working ought to come first and the Russians are far from stupid in that regard. This greatly decreases the possibility of the Burevestnik being the source of the radiation.

Another possibility is a nuclear sub had to do an emergency reactor venting after an explosion took place. Nuclear missiles in the US are almost always solid propellant for the storability and simplicity of the rocket. Some in Russian are. Some are not. Liquid propellants perform far, far better and most Russian submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) liquid propellant. However, if there was an explosion damaging a ballistic missile sub, it would probably be still spewing radiation and it would have been detectable in Norway.

Another possibility is the explosion and the radiation leak were from difference incidents. There are a lot of radiation sources (exposed reactor cores and whatnot) in the Kola Peninsula left over from the Soviet Union. Russia was cleaning these up. However, the transient nature of the source would be an argument against this source. Additionally, the fact Moscow has stated those who died were working on an 'isotope power source' would also suggest otherwise.

So, the mystery remains.

What caused the radiation spike? Why did it clear so quickly? What is going on on the shores of the White Sea?

We just don't know.

posted on Aug, 10 2019 @ 03:32 PM
a reply to: anzha

Perhaps they were just fission on the shores of the White Sea?

posted on Aug, 10 2019 @ 03:32 PM
Russia is a big country but their economy is the size of Italy. They cut a lot of corners with quality control and safety to project power. I bet they have lots of accidents that go unreported. Doesn't surprise me.

posted on Aug, 10 2019 @ 04:04 PM
....“isotopic sources of fuel on a liquid propulsion unit.”

posted on Aug, 10 2019 @ 04:10 PM
Here is an interesting thread I read about this incident. He has included recent satellite pictures to explain.

Went on record with @JonathanLanday about our suspicion that something went wrong during or after a Russian test of its nuclear powered cruise missile (9M730 Burevestnik, NATO name: SSC-X-9 Skyfall). Three pieces of evidence underpin our suspicion.

First, Russia appears to have recently moved SSC-X-9 testing to Nenoksa. In the past year, Russia built a launch area that closely resembles the one removed from Novaya Zemlya with a shelter on rails. (Also, blue shipping containers!)


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.-based nuclear experts said on Friday they suspected an accidental blast and radiation release in northern Russia this week occurred during the testing of a nuclear-powered cruise missile vaunted by President Vladimir Putin last year.

edit on 10/8/2019 by RexKramerPRT because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 10 2019 @ 07:15 PM
Just a shot in the dark here:

Undisclosed experimental high-speed nuclear propelled torpedo?

We know Russia has been working on very high speed torpedoes.

We know Russia has announced its work on a “doomsday” nuclear drone torpedo.

We know Russia has announced development work on a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

Why not combine all three nightmares into one?

posted on Aug, 10 2019 @ 07:37 PM
SO the War Zone has an article up and it basically involves radioactive isotopes fuel source.

So think nuclear ZIP fuel?

posted on Aug, 11 2019 @ 06:08 PM
a reply to: FredT

There are a few different scenarios that could be counted as fuel. Most folks are saying the explosion was from a Burevestnik. There are other possibilities: a nuclear thermal rocket (not cruise missile) or something else entirely.

The Russians are now saying the folks killed were blown out to sea. That would imply they were either on the shore or more likely some sort of launch platform on the water, ship or not.

posted on Aug, 12 2019 @ 06:27 AM
This report claims it was a small nuclear reactor that exploded on an offshore platform.

The failed missile test that ended in an explosion killing five scientists last week on Russia’s White Sea involved a small nuclear reactor, according to a top official at the institute where they worked. The institute is working on small-scale power sources that use “radioactive materials, including fissile and radioisotope materials” for the Defense Ministry and civilian uses, Vyacheslav Soloviev, scientific director of the institute, said in a video shown by local TV.

Russia Says Small Nuclear Reactor Blew Up in Deadly Accident

posted on Aug, 12 2019 @ 01:58 PM
a reply to: anzha

Initially the defence ministry said the explosion on 8 August had involved a liquid-fuel rocket engine, and gave the death toll as two, without specifying the victims.

Later, Rosatom said the test had involved a "radio-isotope propellant source" and had taken place on an offshore platform.

The engineers had completed testing, but suddenly a fire broke out and the engine exploded, throwing the men into the sea, Rosatom said.

Soon after the blast the Severodvinsk administration reported a 40-minute spike in radiation in the city, and news of that prompted locals to buy up stocks of iodine in the city's pharmacies., news - Rocket mystery: What weapon was Russia testing in Arctic?

What I am taking away from this:
1. Do not use nuclear fission to superheat air
2. Always know where your iodine is!

3 others were also hurt and transported to hospital.

I hope this puts to rest this idea. We need to stop puking our waste energy into the air. We already have enough crap up there. And there was a headline about the Marshall atoll still being to "hot" to support human life so nuclear propulsion doesn't seem like the answer. Why, oh why, do we need more missiles? Seems we can save a bunch of money and detonate them in situ thus rendering our valuable land unusable by our enemies.

Long live the revolution!

[eta: last 2 lines sarcasm. Last line is from xkcd]

posted on Aug, 12 2019 @ 03:25 PM
Think about an RTG-- now instead of using all the heat to generate electricity, it uses most of the heat to drive thermal expansion of hydrogen/water/air-mix whatever. A lot simpler and lighter than using an actual reactor. Really hard to throttle up or down, but if you have something on a one-way trip...
Usually uses liquid hydrogen, because it's cold, real cold, so it expands quite a bit when boiled off by your isotope, which means a lot more power than other potential fuels.
And if you have something with a flight time measured only in hours, then you could probably use a more active (shorter half-life) fuel than the plutonium typically used in an RTG...

So liquid hydrogen is your propellant and some radionuclide isotope heats it. You've got a pretty volatile rocket.

If you get spare hydrogen boil off after you shut off your turbopumps, or excess unconsumed gas after shutoff, you might get an unexpected boom after testing.

IF so, the radiation impact would be relatively small and short-lived. Maybe short and small enough to try to sneak by unannounced and unnoticed (oops!)

edit on 12-8-2019 by RadioRobert because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 12 2019 @ 03:42 PM
a reply to: RadioRobert

Don't get me wrong, I think it is neat as all get up to get an old theory like nuclear rocket propelled, anything, to actually work!

Just wish it was not for more weapons. And the waste is an issue. So, you think a hydrogen explosion? That is what happened to Fukushima after the cooling lines lost power; zirconium and fuel rods melted together creating hydrogen building up in the containment vessel until it failed and ignited the hydrogen.

Hum? If that is what they doing, than that little fire after the demo could have been on a chain of events leading to the explosion. Thanks for line of reasoning!

posted on Aug, 12 2019 @ 04:06 PM
Well, if you think about an RTG, (almost) all the radiation is contained. It's transformed into heat. Then thermocouplers can turn that heat into electricity.
So instead, you turn the heat lose on your propellant. But all the radiation is still essentially contained to the core (RTG-analogue).
Unless there is a big boom and that blows, cracks, splits, or is otherwise damaged.

But it's almost certainly not a plutonium fuel. It doesn't need that sort of half-life. It just needs to heat things for a couple hours. Something like Polonium which has a high decay rate, relatively short half -life, and most of the radiation is alpha particles, which are easy to shield and turn into heat. So they get more energy density per gram, lighter shielding, all of which would be pretty relevant to a flying weapon. Would probably make for a short-term dirty-bomb effect at the receiving end (or in a testing accident), but I doubt they would be used to carry a warhead that wasn't going to spread a whole lot more radiation at the receiving end anyway.

Exposure to polonium won't hurt you -- unless you ingest it. Half -life of ~140 days, biological half -life of 50 days. So maybe they played the odds. If only a small amount was released, they might have tried to bury the story thinking not enough people would be effected to notice.

So, it's an interesting development. Especially since we're all ignoring the ol' INF treaty (they obviously didn't develop and build this in a couple months), and now there's no "legal" basis for complaints, so they've apparently been greenlit (or were before this boom).
edit on 12-8-2019 by RadioRobert because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 12 2019 @ 11:19 PM
The Burevestnik missile complex will be delivered on schedule to the Russian armed forces, if that's what someone was thinking about, or if someone had any doubt whatsoever about timing ... and not just the Burevestnik system, but also Sarmat.

Besides , NATO countries can forget achieving anything close to these weapons within the next 10 years. Probably they will never have comparable capabilities due to severe lack of any scientific development in general during the past 30 years ...

Besides ... remember Bulava ? How many times did it fail before succeeding ? ... Soon we will see how NATO oinkers are going to attempt to build and test their own copies of Nuclear-Powered rocket engines ...
edit on 12-8-2019 by Flanker86 because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 12 2019 @ 11:57 PM

originally posted by: Flanker86
Besides ... remember Bulava ? How many times did it fail before succeeding ? ... Soon we will see how NATO oinkers are going to attempt to build and test their own copies of Nuclear-Powered rocket engines ...

Yeah the mythologic super weapon Bulava. Less than half the throw weight of The D-5 and a CEP 4 times worse. You managed to Yep super weapon or rather the same as the Trident I from 1977.

Not sure what an Oinker is? Is that some sort of new Russian vaporware?

The US already did the whole nuclear powered rocket thing back in the 60's aka Project Pluto. Its interesting to note that it did not explode, nor did it release radiation.

posted on Aug, 13 2019 @ 12:12 AM
Is "oinker" what the kids and bots are calling the "Capitalist Pig-dogs" now?

I prefer the old ways...

posted on Aug, 13 2019 @ 08:27 AM
Moscow has admitted there was a radiation spike.

Down playing the spike height?

posted on Aug, 13 2019 @ 10:21 AM
Nyonoksa is being evac'ed according to the Severdinsk administration.

posted on Aug, 13 2019 @ 12:28 PM

Round and round she goes...

posted on Aug, 13 2019 @ 03:18 PM
a reply to: RadioRobert 31T4

US gov seems to think it was related to Skyfall/Burevestnik.

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