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NASA working on nuclear rockets again
Or at least, they have a "road map" for how to resume such work:

(Viewing the article above requires free registration, after which they'll send you a news email now and then — but it's all interesting stuff like this, so I recommend it.)

This is very exciting news.  Nuclear propulsion is far more practical than chemical propulsion for getting around the solar system.  Any time you need to move a large mass, or get somewhere quickly — or both — you want a nuclear engine doing most of the work.

[Image: PHz40.jpg]
But R&D on these was abandoned in the 60s when the public reaction to anything "nuclear" turned sour.  (This was around the same time that NMR was rebranded MRI so that patients would be willing to get into the machine!)  So it's great to see some official attempts to restart it.

Of course I'm not sure public opinion is any more flexible now... one can hope, though.  If not, we might need to conduct our "ground" testing of these new engines somewhere else, such as on the Moon.  I'm still hopeful we'll see Bigelow landing Moon bases within the next 10-20 years, at which point, I guess NASA could rent some space to do their tests!

Joe Strout
Lead Developer, High Frontier

The project ended in 1976 due to politics and the "accident" at Jackass Flats Nevada. My housemate Dr. Robert E. Day Phd x 12 was trapped in the hot reactor for 3 days. The damn thing worked. He was supposed to be "Scotty" on the 1979 nuke powered Mars mission. Transit time 30 - 60 days. The rocket was running when the improper detonation occurred shutting down the motor. We can do it, will we?
The history of nuclear rockets
(09-28-2015, 10:35 AM)Pye-rate Wrote: The history of nuclear rockets

Thanks, that's a really good article.  I sure hope NASA is able to resume nuclear propulsion R&D for real (not just on paper).  Nothing else would have as big an impact on opening the solar system.   ...And it seems like the sort of thing that would be very hard for private companies to do first (though I'm sure they could improve on it, once it's been proven to work).

Joe Strout
Lead Developer, High Frontier

Found a better detailed history.

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