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Nuclear Planes

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posted on Aug, 13 2004 @ 10:03 AM
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ATOMIC PLANES IN THE WORKS?

Source Start::::
The first line sure is juicy: "After more than six decades of research, the first atom-powered airplane is cleared for takeoff."

And even if the substance doesn't quite back up the tantalizing intro in the current Popular Mechanics -- which it doesn't -- this is still an interesting concept.

The attraction of a nuclear plane is that it doesn't run out of fuel. Convert a drone to atomic power, and it could stay aloft just about forever, the thinking goes.

The nuclear drone wouldn't have a traditional fission reactor, running on uranium or plutonium. Instead, it would be powered by hafnium-178.

"In the late 1990s, researchers at the University of Texas in Dallas made a remarkable and unexpected discovery about [halfnium]," the magazine says. "When they bombarded the metal with 'soft' X-rays like those your dentist uses to examine your teeth, the metal released a burst of gamma rays 60 times more powerful than the X-rays."

This reaction could be safer than conventional ones, the magazine argues.

"The gamma ray output drops precipitously the moment power to the X-ray machine is turned off... Since it produces only gamma radiation, less shielding is required. And should an accident occur, there is less of an environmental concern than with fission. Hafnium-178 has a half-life of only 31 years compared to thousands of years for other reactor fuels. In addition, unlike uranium or plutonium, hafnium-178 cannot support a chain reaction, which means it cannot be used to make rogue nuclear weapons."

But, despite the potentially attractive features, an atomic drone is nowhere near takeoff.

"Project managers for Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory tell Popular Mechanics they have begun discussions that could lead to the conversion of a Global Hawk [drone] to a nuclear-powered aircraft They have not yet signed a contract to convert a Global Hawk to nuclear power, they are aware of discussions taking place within the Air Force." (emphasis mine)

THERE'S MORE: Some scientists are pouring cold water all over the halfnium idea, reader MS points out. "May not make physical sense," was the opinion of 5 of 12 Pentagon researchers appointed to look into halfnium bombs.

AND MORE: Defense Tech "deserves better than Popular Mechanics doing a fair imitation of the National Inquirer," says Los Alamos consultant and nuclear proliferation expert Russell Seitz.

With so-called "isomers" like halfnium-178, he writes, "energy has both to be put in and gotten out. The mere fact that more and better physicists using fiercer x-ray sources and more sensitive gamma detectors can't get any signal out of the same isotopes -- even upon many experimental iterations and variations -- satisfies me that [this] is just another example of the economics of desire."

AND MORE: The Defense Department was looking at atomic planes back in the 1940's, reader JM notes, with a project called "Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft," or NEPA. And for a year or so, the Pentagon considered irradiating human test subjects, to see how much nuclear exposure pilots could take. After Manhattan Project scientist Dr. Joseph Hamilton pointed out that such experiments would have "a little of the Buchenwald touch," the idea was finally, and thankfully, dropped.

Source End::::

information taken fromDefence Tech
about 2/3 of the way down the page


nuclear drones could reshape the way warfare is fought, a drone that can fly for years with a laser based weapon that runs off the nuclear power


[edit on 13-8-2004 by UK Wizard]




posted on Aug, 13 2004 @ 10:54 AM
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Nuclear planes have been studied since the 50's.

Over all, the idea is a good one - but i'd say it is a few decades away.

Nice find though



posted on Aug, 13 2004 @ 12:24 PM
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Originally posted by American Mad Man
Nuclear planes have been studied since the 50's.

Over all, the idea is a good one - but i'd say it is a few decades away.

Nice find though


- No doubt you'd love to have them manufactured, maintained and stationed right next to you - and overflying you, right?

Come on.

It's an insane idea.

It was dropped because it is an insane idea.



posted on Aug, 13 2004 @ 01:10 PM
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It is not an insane idea it is a great one planes could stay up longer and fly more efficient. We use nuclear power in Carriers and Subs the only next logical thing is Airplanes. Do you know how many accidents have happened where a US sub or Carrier has unleashed nuclear material...the answer zero because of all the steps to prevent it the same will happen with the military airplanes. The project was dropped because the tech was still at its infancy but now its has greatly advanced. and there are also plans for the next NASA probe or space vehicle will be nuclear powered.



posted on Aug, 13 2004 @ 01:17 PM
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An additional discussion of Hafnium propulsion is found here:
www.abovetopsecret.com...

The professor that managed to get the x-rays to convert into gamma rays happened to be researching in my neck of the woods at the time. ;-)
I would like to see the day come when other Scientists are able to replicate his work. Until that happens people are going to have doubt about this technology, if they have even heard of it at all.



posted on Aug, 13 2004 @ 01:20 PM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Do you know how many accidents have happened where a US sub or Carrier has unleashed nuclear material...the answer zero because of all the steps to prevent it the same will happen with the military airplanes.


I can see the logic in using nuclear power as a fuel source for all the energy benefits.

While I agree that US Subs / Carriers have not knowingly spewed out radioactive mess have they been involved in proper all out combat?

I would hate to see the devastion and mess left after a dogfight between nuclear powered aircraft.

That would take some clearing up - man just think about the RAF Tornados shot down by friendly fire in Iraq........ just imagine if those were nuclear powered and the debris went over the coalition forces.



posted on Aug, 14 2004 @ 06:34 AM
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First of all the nuclear powered airplanes would be drones and UCAVs which can benefit form the unlimited fuel. We would not have nuclear powered Airplanes deigned from dogfights way to dangerous. So only drones and NASA probes no dog fighting airplanes. And a number of US nuke subs have been sunk not due to combat but still they have sunk and no nuclear radiation has been spread.



posted on Aug, 14 2004 @ 07:01 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
First of all the nuclear powered airplanes would be drones and UCAVs which can benefit form the unlimited fuel. We would not have nuclear powered Airplanes deigned from dogfights way to dangerous.


- Great idea Westy.

I suggest everyone who is so in favour of this idea should have one of these super safe drones fly over their house and follow them and the kids/family around 24/7.

Put your money where your mouth is....lets see just how much you really support the idea.

[edit on 14-8-2004 by sminkeypinkey]



posted on Aug, 14 2004 @ 02:22 PM
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Why would this drone follow me only 3rd world civis would suffer incase of a malfunction, and that is a small price to pay for an incredible technology, IMO. You have to give things a try before you automatically reject them.



posted on Aug, 14 2004 @ 02:33 PM
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I heard of this for quite a long time Project N.E.R.V.A looked into nuclear powered rockets but I think it was shutdown for some reason.

A nuclear powered plane would have to refuel what like every 50 years like a nuclear sub does right?



posted on Aug, 14 2004 @ 08:35 PM
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what if it crashed?



::BOOOM!?:::

or do i not understand how this stuff works?



posted on Aug, 14 2004 @ 09:00 PM
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Wouldnt it spread radiation just by flying around?
I mean, its hard to deposit anything on a small plane (nuclear waste).
They would have to spread radioactivity all over the places where theyre flying.
You call that a small price to pay...?
Or should they just be flying over enemy territory and radiate them, is that what you mean?



posted on Aug, 15 2004 @ 01:00 AM
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I don't like this one.

when there flying they won't put of much more radiation then your cell phone, But if they crash that could be very bad.

No they wouldn't explode like a nuke, but if it crashes at a high enough speed it could breech the metal structure surrounding it. I'm sure they would make it strong but I for one would rather see a blimp above me (which could stay up for months), then a Nuclear plane.



posted on Aug, 15 2004 @ 01:39 AM
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Well that would certainly reduce the amount of money needed to be spent on fuel for jets. Each one could be equiped with a system such as the one mentioned aboved, and would almost never need to be fueled up again.



posted on Aug, 15 2004 @ 03:53 AM
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How about building really big nuclear powered planes.
1.Nuclear powered bomber. It could transport huge amounts of bombs and have unlimited range. And what country will try to shoot it down over their own territory ?
2.Flying cruisers. They could be armed in various types of cruise missiles and AA weapons. Fitting them with strong radars (like AWACS) and anti missile defenses will make them really dangerous things, able to fight many conventional fighters
3.Flying carriers. They could be like mobile air bases. And wont have aircraft types limited to their deck lenght. If it fly 10-15 kilometers high a starting aircraft can just dive few kilometers after start to get speed and then level up.
All these airships could be fitted with helium tanks to make up their big weight, so they will be able to just stand in one place.



posted on Aug, 15 2004 @ 05:21 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Why would this drone follow me only 3rd world civis would suffer incase of a malfunction, and that is a small price to pay for an incredible technology, IMO. You have to give things a try before you automatically reject them.



I hope that remark was meant to be sarcastic Westy, if not it is one of the most disgusting and ignorant things I have ever read



posted on Aug, 15 2004 @ 05:51 AM
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I think in future the Global Hawks, or DarkStar recon aircrafts could be powered by plutonium batteries. 2kg of plutonium produces 1kW of electric energy that could be used for electric engines. Plutonium batteries are not like reactors, they don't require cooling mediums, don't have turbines or other moving parts, the energy is gained directly from the heat (alpha particles) emited from the plutonium. The batteries could be enclosed in some body from ceramic or titanium from example - that means that even after the crash the battery would stay intact. The nuclear GlobalHawk could stay in air for 50 years(!!!) without refueling. The other advantage would be no IR signature (when compared to normal engines), no acustic signature - if such "NucHawk" would have good antiradar stealth it could be absolutely invisible. Such plutonium GlobalHawks could be used instead of satellites. (Imagine stealth aircraft cruising over NorthKorea for 50 years) and also in anti misille defense systems (they could carry laser designators and guide the antimisile rockets with pinpoint accuracy - for example NucHawk cruises over North Korea equipped with IR and radar sensors, it detects an balistic missile, the fast antimisille rocket is fired from the base and duriong the end phase of flight it is guided by NucHawk's laser designator). NucHawk could also work together with ABL.
Plutonium batteries are very safe , they have been used in cardiostimulators in the past.

[edit on 15-8-2004 by longbow]



posted on Aug, 15 2004 @ 06:31 AM
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First of all Drones and UCAV's now only go about 250mph top speed unless they start going mach 2 you don't have to worry about the containment metal breaking . This thing will be tougher than a black box. And they do not explode like nukes if they leak or spread.


1.Nuclear powered bomber. It could transport huge amounts of bombs and have unlimited range. And what country will try to shoot it down over their own territory ?


This is so true what country would shoot it down
And if they do it was their fault for shooting it down not ours. Its the ultimate blackmail weapon but I don't think the US would use it as a black mail. Then again if we don't like a country, we could just start flying it over them if they get touch and shoot it down opps... big mistake. I hope this don't happen though.



posted on Aug, 15 2004 @ 10:18 AM
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UK Wizard, if you're interested in the UK'S past research of nuclear aircraft and you live near London (that's two big ifs) you will find the following document title interesting.

Piece details: AIR 2/15000

Nuclear powered aircraft OR340: Air Staff Target and other correspondence

1958-1966
Covering dates 1958-1966
Scope and content Nuclear powered aircraft OR340: Air Staff Target and other correspondence
Access conditions Normal Closure 30

Held at The National Archives, Kew

The National Archives (formerly the Public Records Office) search website is;

www.catalogue.nationalarchives.gov.uk...

The Air Ministry project was an Air Staff Target which means the RAF had expressed a demand for a nuclear powered aircraft and were willing to pay for the research.

I've had experience with Staff Target documents and they are usually very thick "working files that contain all sorts of relevent information; from the initial research to information on similar research being conducted by other Tripartite counTries (US,Canada,UK).

Well worth a look, if only to find out why the RAF abandoned the nuclear powered aircraft project.


zero lift



posted on Aug, 15 2004 @ 12:14 PM
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Wouldnt it spread radiation just by flying around?


Some one finally stated the obvious. This is the main reason the project was cancled back in the 50s. There was no way to contain the radiation. Anyone ever consider how much lead is used on nuclear powered ships? Airplanes don't do well with that much weight. Plus nuclear powered jet engines were highly radiactive when running.

This whole idea is stupid and came about when atomic energy was in it's hayday. I'm sure there have been plenty of military radiological accidents we've never been told about and I wouldn't be surprized if some of these types of aircraft do exist.

I do think nuclear power does make sense for spacecraft though...




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