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Originally posted by Aelita
There was a notion in this thread that if something goes wrong with the nuclear-powered spacecraft, an area of 1or two square miles will be hit. This, of course, is far from truth. If you lift Chernobyl 20 miles up in the air and blow it to pieces, I guarantee you that very large stretches of land will be uninhabitable for a very, very long time due to radioactive contamination.
You can take out a complete state with it. While not an expert, I know more about nuclear reactors than laypeople, and I don't feel comfortable with a flying reactor core, even though I think that ground based power plants can be in fact very safe.
In addition, such an apapratus will be a prime target for (you guessed it) terrorists of all sorts.
Moreover, in case of hostilities, it can be a target for the enemy. If a missile tipped with low-yield nuke is exploded in the vicinity of the airborne reactor, it will likely detonate, producing an extremely massive and very "dirty" explosion.
If this takes place at high altitude, there will an EMP event of huge proprtions. No good.
As for the ion drive, it still needs electricity to run. So it's catch 22.
Originally posted by XphilesPhan
I think in a few more years physics might be to the point, where if there was a real need or push for FTL (faster than light) flight it might be possible....(Im talking serious research probably fueled by the government, where expenses where less of a concern for a prototype.)
Originally posted by Springer
I am no expert but I do read the AIAA's monthly, Members ONLY periodical, "Aerospace America". According to what I have to believe are the best minds in the field, we simply haven't got the technology down well enough to safely use a nuke engine in space.
That's not to say we are terribly far off from having it down right but in answer to your question, we simply don't have the capability yet.
Originally posted by baaronhaile
isn't nuclear power just making steam? i'm sure Nasa has better than a hot kettle to get to Mars.
steam power to the moon!