This means that nuclear power rather than a rocket engine should pull a spacecraft headed to Mars.
Spacecrafts with nuclear engines are not just a dream. Back in the 1970s, the Soviet Union launched nuclear powered satellites. Recently a federal
program “New generation of nuclear energy technologies for the period of 2010 - 2015 and up to 2020” was approved. This year, 500 million was
allocated for creation of transport-power module based
During the last fifty or sixty years or so of space flight I am sure this idea has been kicked around a lot. Now it seems the Russians have set a
time line for making it work. So one question now it seems might be, is this technology already our there and has been suppressed? If not then the
next might be can they really make it work? Please post any ideas or thoughts you might have.
The sooner we field workable space based fission reactors the sooner we might actually be able to travel somewhere interesting in sensible timescales.
Long long overdue.
Thanks to everyone who is posting.
I like what you said here. I would like to see space travel happen in a reasonable time scale. I don't know if this is the answer but we all
know some new tech breakthrough will have to happen to make it work.
It would be retarded to launch the vessel, or the propulsion module of the vessel, with fuel rods inserted. If that blew up it would be a problem
since you could end up with a cloud of radioactive particles.
However, if you planned to fuel the reactor in orbit you could launch small amounts of fissile material separately in hardened flasks. If the rocket
failed you end up dropping one of these in the sea.
It would not be armageddon.
If we don't master control of the solar system an asteroid will kill us all sooner or later anyway. That would be armageddon.
I vote for not being extinct, all in favour raise their hands :-)
While I can understand people having trepidations about the saftey margins involved with a project as potentialy dangerous as this, I have to admit,
that alongside the dangers , there could also be massive gains in knowlege made. Assuming that is ,that the tech could be made to function without
causing obscene amounts of damage to the planet as it leaves it, or indeed causing death and cancers to anything caught in the blast from its exhaust.
If the Russian claims that they will be able to build a versatile nuclear capable rocket , and the platform proved safe and viable, then that would
greatly advance the combined knowlege of humanity. I think thats got to be one of the most important goals of science in general.
I mean just the thought of being able to reduce interplanetary travel times by a significant factor is an amazing concept. Doing that and a myriad of
incredible but extremely desirable other things as well .... If it can be done without occasioning massive devastation then Im all for it . Of course
if not, then it shouldnt be done , but I hope they find a way.
Nuclear based spacecraft are the only means we currently have at getting to and from the planets outside the moon viably. I applaud the Soviets in
their endeavor to pave the way for the usage of nuclear based systems in space.
A bit about how these proposed nuclear engines would work.
The idea for using nuclear energy in space is not a new one by any means. Originally there were concepts of using nuclear blasts to propel a rocket by
literally exploding nuclear packages behind a blast plate attached to the ship. As the explosion took place behind the ship, its blast would
accelerate the ship forward.
This was needless to say not such a great idea. The harnessing of said explosions in a productive way was just not very viable, among other things.
The newer way that engines will use nuclear energy is Ion plasma based engines, that will simply use nuclear energy as an electrical generator of
The Ion based systems, and namely VASIMR, will use an ion plasma based system to exert a small but continuous force that will eventually get rockets
to great speeds.
It is my hope that the Soviets continue to push the VASIMR Ion based system as it has great potential.
For more on what VASIMR is, see the following video.
Here is the VASIMR engine actually working in experimental conditions. You can see the pendulums placed inside the chamber which show the actual force
Vasimr truly is the future of interplanetary space travel, and has the potential of being interstellar as well. Theoretically a space craft with
constant force can actually continue to accelerate to near the speed of light, eventually. However interstellar will still take one or more
generations living on board before they got to any close stars.
Also, for those worried about a possible catastrophe, one has to remember that there are literally hundred of nuclear powered submarines and ships
traveling the worlds oceans at this very moments, and their safety record is impeccable.
I read on another news site, that although this engine will be run using nuclear power, the fuel itself is not radioactive. The concept of nuclear
power coming from a non radioactive source , and not PRODUCING rads is beyond me .
I have to say , I am impressed by what I have read so far, and I cannot help but say again how hopeful I am about this new project. I hope also, that
this technology will be used in the future by all the nations of the earth to colonise the rest of our system, and maybe beyond!
Well one or two of the news agencies covering this, say that the fuel source itself is not radioactive, so apart from any incendiary damage to the
blast zone of such an explosion, I would have thought that fallout would be minimal, certainly nothing like an atom bomb, or even that unspellable
nuclear accident (Cannot spell that word even after half a decade trying).
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