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Nuclear Space Ship SSTO Proposal
NuclearSpace.com ^ | None given, Historisal | Anthony Tate

Posted on 09/23/2005 2:45:56 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972


This is an excerpt of a very lengthy explanation of what a nuclear SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) fully reusable rocket would look like. The full article can be found at the link above.

In this section I describe a huge nuclear powered rocket launcher. I will repeat and expand upon many of the points I made above, because I don't want to throw cryptic acronyms around. I want people to understand just how powerful we can make this rocket if we decide to do it.

The most important difference between our new booster and the Saturn V is in the engines. The Saturn V used five massively powerful F1 engines in the first stage, burning kerosene and liquid oxygen. The mighty F1 produced 1.5 million pounds of thrust. Despite its large size and power, the F1 was a very "relaxed" design. It ran well inside the possible performance envelope. The reason it did so was to increase reliability. This is a sound design principle, so I will apply it to the new launcher wherever possible.

For an engine, I will designate a Gaseous Core Nuclear Reactor design, of the Nuclear Lightbulb subvariant. I like the gas core design for a number of reasons, and the nuclear lightbulb variant for several more.

To recap, the efficiency and power of the thruster is based on the difference in temperature between the fissioning mass and the reaction mass. If you run a solid core NTR much above 3000 C, it melts. This provides a firm "ceiling" on how efficient a solid core reactor can be. A gas core design STARTS melted. In addition, since all of the structure of the fuel mass is dynamic, a gas cored reactor is inherently safer than a solid core device. If a "hot spot" develops in a solid core, disaster ensues. If a hot spot develops in a gas core, the hot spot superheats and "puffs" itself out of existence. A gas core reactor is expected to operate at temperatures of 25,000C. The much higher temperature gradient makes the thruster inherently more efficient.

Second, a solid core reactor has a "fixed" core, since it is solid. A gas core reactor does not, and the radioactive fuel is easily "sucked" out of the core and stored in a highly non-critical state completely out of the engine! The fuel storage system I propose is a mass of thick walled boron-aluminum alloy tubing. As I said above, the fuel proper is uranium hexaflouride gas. UF6 is mean stuff, but we have decades of experience handling it in gaseous diffusion plants, and common aluminum and standard seals are available which resist attack from it. It is stoichiometric, fluorine is low activation, and UF6 changes phase at moderate temperatures, allowing it to be converted from high pressure gas to a solid and back again using nothing fancier than gas cooling and electrical heaters. This naturally makes dealing with the engine easier.

In addition, the design of the gas core allows the addition and removal of fuel "on the fly." The core can also have its density varied by control of the vortex, which directly affects criticality. Both of these elements allow very potent control inputs to be applied to a gas core reactor which are very stable and unaffected by the isotopic condition of the fuel mass.

Also, to repeat, due to the extremely high temperature gradient in the motor, the main cooling of the fissioning mass is not conductive but radiative, a mode which is inherently less susceptible to perturbations. (Having no working fluid for cooling means no material characteristics for the working fluid must be considered.) This radiative cooling mechanism is what allows the "lightbulb" system to work. The silica bulb just has to be transparent enough to let the gigantic power output of the fissioning core flow through, while keeping the radioactive material of the core safely contained inside the thruster. No radioactive materials leak out of the exhaust, it is completely "clean."

Third, a gas cored reactor has several potential "scram" modes, both fast and slow, and the speed of the reaction is easily "throttled" by adding and removing fuel or by manipulating the vortex. A 'scram' is an emergency shutdown, usually done in a very fast way. For example: a gas cored reactor can be fast scrammed by using a pressurized "shotgun" behind a weak window. If the core exceeds the design parameters of the window, which are to be slightly weaker than the silica "lightbulb," then the "shotgun" blasts 150 or so kilos of boron/cadmium pellets into the uranium gas, quenching the reaction immediately. A slightly slower scram which is implemented totally differently is to vary the gas jets in the core to instill a massive disturbance into the fuel vortex. This disturbance would drastically reduce criticality in the fission gas. A third scram mode, slightly slower still, is to implement a high-speed vacuum removal of the fuel mass into the storage system. Having three separate scram modes, one of which is passively triggered, should instill plenty of safety margin in the nuclear core of each thruster. Extensive work was done on gas core reactors, and 25 years ago several experimental designs were built and run successfully. There were technical challenges, but nothing that seems insurmountable or even especially difficult given our current computer and material skills.

The engine I propose is this:

A Gas cored NTR using a silica lightbulb. The silica bulb is cooled and pressure-balanced against the thrust chamber by high pressure hydrogen gas. The cooling gas from the silica bulb is used to power three turbopumps "borrowed" from the Space Shuttle Main Engine. These pumps are run at a very relaxed 88 percent of rated power at their maximum setting. The three pumps move 178 kilos of liquid hydrogen per second combined. Most of this is sprayed into the thrust chamber. A portion of the liquid hydrogen is forced into cooling channels for the thrust chamber and expansion nozzle, where a portion of it is bled from micropores to form a cooling gas layer. The gaseous hydrogen that is not bled then flows down the silica lightbulb to cool it, and the cycle finally goes into powering the turbopumps.

This engine produces 1,200,000 pounds of thrust, with an exhaust velocity of 30,000 meters per second, from a thermal output of approximately 80 gigawatts. This equates to an Isp of 3060 seconds. Several sources state that a gas core NTR can exceed 5000 seconds Isp, so 3060 is well inside the overall performance envelope. The three turbopumps from the SSME are run at low power levels, and even losing a pump allows the engine to continue running as long as there is no damage to the nuclear core. Lets assume this design is able to achieve a thrust to weight ratio of ten to one, so the engine and all of its safety systems, off-line fuel storage, etc, weighs 120,000 pounds. I think we can build this engine easily for 60 tons.

We have the engine. Now to design the entire vehicle.

Since we are using the Saturn V as our template, we will make the new machine about the same weight, or six million pounds launch weight. With our engines giving 1.2 million pounds of thrust, we need at least five to get off the ground. But, since we have the power of nuclear on our side, we will use seven engines instead of five. Why seven? The most vulnerable moments of a rocket launch are the first fifteen seconds after launch. If we have to scram a motor in those fifteen seconds, having two extras is very comforting. Engine failures further along the flight profile are much easier to recover from, and having two spare engines allows us to be very "chicken" on our criteria for scramming a motor. We can shut one down even at one second after launch if we need to with no risk of crashing the entire vehicle. This further lowers the risk of nuclear power as a means of getting off the earth. With seven engines, we have a thrust of 8.4 million pounds available. In addition, the turbopumps can "overthrottle" the engines easily in dire straits. This gets more thrust at the expense of less Isp.

Let's design the vehicle for a total DeltaV of 15 km per second. This is very high for a LEO booster, but the reason for it is to allow enough reaction mass to perform a powered descent. In other words, this is a true spaceship, that flies up and then can fly back down again.

The formula to calculate DeltaV from a rockets mass is: DeltaV = c * ln(M0/M1).

'c' is exhaust velocity of the engines and equals 30,000 m/s.

'ln' is the natural log.

'M0' is the initial mass of the vehicle, and we have set this to be 6 million pounds.

'M1' is the mass of the vehicle when it runs dry of reaction mass.

The value of M1 is what we need to find, since we know we want a total DeltaV of 15,000 m/s.

Doing a little simple math, we find we need 2,400,000 pounds of reaction mass. Since we are using liquid hydrogen, we can now calculate the size of the hydrogen tank needed, which is 15,200 cubic meters. This works out to be a whopping 20 meters in diameter and 55 meters long!

We look at the Saturn V and find our new booster is going to be quite plump compared to the sleek Saturn V, but we have no choice if we want to use liquid hydrogen as reaction mass. Since hydrogen is the best reaction mass physics allows, and is cheap, plentiful, and we have decades of experience handling it, we will use it.

A design height of 105 meters seems reasonable. We assign 15 meters to the engines, 55 meters for the hydrogen tank, 5 meters for shielding and crew space, and a modular cargo area which is 30 meters high and 20 meters in diameter. This is enough cargo space for a good sized office building!

How heavy is the rest of the vehicle? Well, we already decided that the engines are going to weigh 120,000 pounds each, for a total of 840,000 pounds. (To make a comparison, the entire Saturn V, all three stages, engines and all, weighed a mere 414,000 pounds dry.)

Let's splurge here. With nuclear power, we have the power to splurge. Let's use 760,000 pounds to build all of the structure of the new booster. We use thicker and stronger metal, we use extra layers of redundancy, we make it strong and safe and reliable.

We have now used 2,400,000 pounds for reaction mass, 840,000 pounds for the engines, and 760,000 pounds for the rest of the ship's dry structure. This adds up to 4,000,000 pounds, fully built, fully fueled, ready to launch.

But we said at the beginning, the booster has a design launch weight of 6,000,000 pounds! If it only weighs 4 million pounds ready to launch, the rest must be cargo capacity.

This machine has a Low Earth Orbit cargo capacity of TWO MILLION POUNDS.

It is fully reusable. We gave it enough fuel to fly back safely from orbit.

It has MASSIVE redundancy and multiple levels of safety mechanisms.

Its exhaust is completely clean: It is very difficult to make hydrogen radioactive in a fission reactor. It basically can't happen.

It flies to space with a thousand tons of cargo, and flies back using some gentle aero-braking and its thrusters with another thousand tons of cargo.

This means it has eight times the cargo capacity of the Saturn V, which was not reusable at all. No longer will the Saturn V be the mightiest American rocket. No more resting on our laurels.

With this sort of performance potential, can anyone argue that NTR's are NOT the only sensible course for heavy lift boosters?

There are risks, of course, but careful design and the proper launch site can easily mitigate those risks so that the huge advantages of nuclear propulsion can be realized.


TOPICS: Science
KEYWORDS: prometheus; space; ssto
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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This is an article that I thought that some of you might be interested in since we have been talking about NASA's new initiative. True this Was written awhile back, but it's still interesting for what can be done if only we would try.

For all those interested on why projects like X-33, Venturestar or any other SSTO (Single stage to Orbit) eventually fail in today's world without the use of Nuclear power from an engineering standpoint, I will direct you here:

The Cold Equations Of Spaceflight

The Freeper discusion on the topic:

The Cold Equations Of Spaceflight

1 posted on 09/23/2005 2:45:57 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972
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To: tricky_k_1972

I've been dreaming to see this for YEARS now.


2 posted on 09/23/2005 2:47:13 PM PDT by prophetic ("I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things."--Dan Rather)
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To: Frank_Discussion; unibrowshift9b20; KevinDavis; RightWhale; El Sordo; SauronOfMordor; ...

Space Ping! If you want on or off this list please Freepmail me.
My Home Page

This is a temporary Ping List. Some people were added for a perceived interest in this specific topic. If you have never been pinged to on my list and do not wish to be pinged again, do nothing. If you wish to be added to this ping list Freepmail me and you will be added. For those that have been regulars to the list check out my new updated home page for links and information.

3 posted on 09/23/2005 2:48:38 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: tricky_k_1972

The main obstacles to nuclear propulsion seem to be political rather than technical.


4 posted on 09/23/2005 2:49:48 PM PDT by rightwingcrazy
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To: prophetic

We all have.


5 posted on 09/23/2005 2:49:48 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: rightwingcrazy

I agree, unfortunately the political obstacles are formidable.


6 posted on 09/23/2005 2:51:53 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: Moonman62

Ping!


7 posted on 09/23/2005 3:04:19 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: narby

Ping!


8 posted on 09/23/2005 3:05:51 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: tricky_k_1972

ping


9 posted on 09/23/2005 3:13:30 PM PDT by playball0
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To: prophetic
I've been dreaming to see this for YEARS now.

The last time I visited the "What's next?" exhibit at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum, I left angry. The exhibit starts with all sorts of promising technology including NERVA that's been mothballed for decades because "nuclear" became a bad word near the end I found a little Mars exhibit that asked something like, "Should we disturb the prisine environment of Mars with mankind's presence?" Where next? According to that exhibit, the dark ages.

10 posted on 09/23/2005 3:16:38 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: tricky_k_1972

Or they could just build it in secret at groom lake then announce it later.


11 posted on 09/23/2005 3:17:11 PM PDT by RockyMtnMan
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To: tricky_k_1972
Damn, we should do this asap.

1000 ton payloads make a big interplantary craft in a hurry.

12 posted on 09/23/2005 3:18:52 PM PDT by Centurion2000 ((Aubrey, Tx) --- The government seems to be rewarding stupidity lately.)
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To: tricky_k_1972

bookmark


13 posted on 09/23/2005 3:22:05 PM PDT by Sergio (If a tree fell on a mime in the forest, would he make a sound?)
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To: Centurion2000
Well this rocket is sort of a built in interplanetary space craft.

The guy that wrote this also figured out that you can use it for nuclear waste disposal, so not only is it environmentally "clean" and reusable, it also cleans the environment as it works.

14 posted on 09/23/2005 3:25:41 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: tricky_k_1972
From the link: The rocket equation tells you that an SSTO booster using LH2 fuel and LO2 oxidizer needs a fuel mass fraction of around 0.92. That means that 92% of the take-off weight needs to be ascent propellant, and only 8% is left for everything else.

The problem is we're still talking vertical takeoff with 100% of the required fuel and oxidizer from ground level. I know you're promoting nuclear, but that's never going to happen politically.

By using air for oxidizer for roughly half the acceleration, you drastically reduce the required weight for oxidizer, and thus reduce the fuel required and the size of the vehicle that must carry it, thus saving even more fuel. The savings snowball.

Aerodynamic lift up to 100k feet is far more efficient than vertical takeoff, saving even more fuel, and allowing smaller engines.

Taking off with only partial fuel, and tanking via garden variety Air Force tanker allows takeoff with even smaller engines than lifting the whole thing from a runway. An SR-71 can't even get off the runway with full fuel, and I'm sure a runway to orbit vehicle would not either.

The months required, if not years, for building/refurbishing very large rockets will run the cost up just as it did the Shuttle, which originally was supposed to have turn around times measured in weeks.

Yes, we need high lift unmanned rockets to get large components into space, at least until we can fabricate them on the moon, mars, or asteroids (which will be a long time from now). But human transport and resupply should be via some kind of Turbo/Ram/Scram/Rocket aircraft. Yes the development cost would be extraordinarily high. But until we build such a thing that can be re-flown within a day of landing, or less, then space flight will be only dreams and fodder for government pork.

No thanks.

15 posted on 09/23/2005 3:28:00 PM PDT by narby
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To: RockyMtnMan
Or they could just build it in secret at groom lake then announce it later.

If I was President that is exactly what I would do, and damn the consequences, at least I could leave that much of a legacy for the American people and the world.

16 posted on 09/23/2005 3:29:32 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: tricky_k_1972
You said the 'N' word with SSTO.
Paging EPA.
Oh yes and Paging DHS
I'd page EDF but it's Friday and they are stoned already having a Bush blood orgy on the DU.
:)
17 posted on 09/23/2005 3:32:31 PM PDT by JamminJAY (This space for rent)
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To: rightwingcrazy
Nuclear powered booster: really, really expensive.

Chemical powered booster: really, really, expensive.

This is the reason why nuclear propulsion was discarded. There is unfortunately no compelling (economic) reason for manned space travel, and the specialized robotic missions that NASA and similar agencies mount each cost a lot more than the cost of the expendable boosters used launch them.

If we built such a thing, and sent humans to visit Mars and begin to colonize the Moon, I would be thrilled. But it isn't going to happen in our lifetime.

18 posted on 09/23/2005 3:33:55 PM PDT by megatherium
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To: tricky_k_1972

It's possible they already have one and we won't know about it until the political climate is friendly to it's existance. I would sure like to see the ChiComies faces when/if we ever unveil such a wonderful craft.

The president wants a bold new vision for future space travel, he should take advantage of the great american skunk works machine and make it happen. We don't have to know about it until it's a glowing success. (no pun intended)

Maybe a SpaceShip One / Nuke Rocket combo licensing would interest Mr Rutan if their were federal dollars wrapped in a black project just for him.


19 posted on 09/23/2005 3:36:20 PM PDT by RockyMtnMan
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To: tricky_k_1972
He neglects discussing how to reenter his creation. His model, the Saturn V, wasn't designed for that task. He may have the power, but do his engines have the precise control needed for a soft landing? What design compromises will be needed and how much mass will he have to add to make that work?

I love the proposed power source. Even if we can build a space elevator, perhaps the most efficient possible way to LEO, a power plant like this would improve getting around the solar system. If it can be made to work it surely creates better options for spaceflight. Much of the power plant testing could be done safely on ground. The main ground test limitation would be the effects of variable acceleration, from zero to a few G, on the plumbing of the thing.

20 posted on 09/23/2005 3:39:38 PM PDT by JohnBovenmyer
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To: tricky_k_1972

Great!


21 posted on 09/23/2005 3:45:53 PM PDT by chaosagent (Remember, no matter how you slice it, forbidden fruit still tastes the sweetest!)
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To: narby
Yes the development cost would be extraordinarily high. But until we build such a thing that can be re-flown within a day of landing, or less, then space flight will be only dreams and fodder for government pork.

Narby, man I agree, I know what the smart play is, I just don't think you can convince the general populace that were right.

The new project NASA is talking about is 109 Billion dollars over 5 to 18 years and you already hear squawking over that, and that’s less than .5% of today's national budget. Heck if we wanted to do what NASA is proposing we could spend the money and have it all operational within 2 to 3 years and the public wouldn't even notice the expense.

All this, All this crap about the expense of what NASA is currently planning is just that, crap.

My only idea on how to correct the public perception is to have a huge advertising campaign and a income tax check-off for direct spending on NASA like we do with state projects on beef/pork promotion or if you don't like NASA then do the same thing except it goes directly toward private investment.

22 posted on 09/23/2005 3:47:10 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: prophetic

I like it....now all that we need is someone with the guts to make it happen.


23 posted on 09/23/2005 3:50:59 PM PDT by ARCADIA (Abuse of power comes as no surprise)
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To: JohnBovenmyer

He does discuss that I think, if you read the entire proposal. I just can't bring myself to post ten pages or more on FreeRepublic.


24 posted on 09/23/2005 3:52:34 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: tricky_k_1972

One additional booster method that's been a staple of science fiction stories, has been the use of ground-based lasers to propel a spacecraft outside the atmosphere


25 posted on 09/23/2005 3:54:33 PM PDT by SauronOfMordor (Never try to teach a pig to sing -- it wastes your time and it annoys the pig)
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To: JamminJAY

The stupid eF'en thing about the whole deal is with this type of rocket you could move most industry off planet and turn the entire planet into a gigantic park, the environ weenies should be pushing this to the hilt.


26 posted on 09/23/2005 3:55:58 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: tricky_k_1972
My only idea on how to correct the public perception ...

That is the hard part.

I can't tell for sure if you're agreeing with me on the runway-to-orbit that I'm pushing, or the Nuclear rocket you're talking about. But if it's runway-to-orbit, the way to promote it is to let Rutan and his buddies keep on flying higher and faster and getting headlines. At some point a commercial and/or government critical mass of opinion will develop and we'll do it.

Having SpaceShipOne in the Air and Space Museum down the street from the Congress will help too.

The nuke rocket is a cool engineering idea, but I just can't ever see the nimbys (or the not-over-my-heads) allowing it to happen. We can't even get permission to cut down diseased or half burnt up trees without lawsuits for years, so I can't ever see such a rocket being built for generations. At least until the population gets an entirely different attitude about nuclear.

27 posted on 09/23/2005 3:57:28 PM PDT by narby
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To: tricky_k_1972

Very Cool. I wish one would get built!


28 posted on 09/23/2005 3:57:36 PM PDT by Paul_Denton (Get the U.N. out of the U.S. and U.S. out of the U.N.!)
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To: megatherium
Nuclear powered booster: really, really expensive.

Yes, your right the initial development is really, really expensive, but unlike most SSTO's this is truly reusable and it can save money simply by being used for nuclear waste disposal.

After all, how much are they spending to create that National Nuclear Waste Disposal site?

29 posted on 09/23/2005 4:01:52 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: SirKit

Check this out!


30 posted on 09/23/2005 4:12:22 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: narby
I can't tell for sure if you're agreeing with me on the runway-to-orbit that I'm pushing, or the Nuclear rocket you're talking about.

I was talking about the runway-to-orbit air-breathing engine design.

The problem I see is Rutan isn't proposing an air-breathing engine design, nor has he ever proposed one. The Roton rocket was sort of the same idea, but even he couldn't get it to work.

I'm not saying that an air-breathing engine to LEO can't work, I know it can, but I think it will take 10 to 30 years of steady, intense, direct engineering to get us there, and nobody that I have seen is even starting in that direction.

I still think that my idea of a tax check-off for direct funding of either NASA or private industry "Prizes" for development is the best way to go.

31 posted on 09/23/2005 4:23:27 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: SauronOfMordor
One additional booster method that's been a staple of science fiction stories, has been the use of ground-based lasers to propel a spacecraft outside the atmosphere.

Yep, but the only way to develop a sustained power source capable of providing this powerful of a laser is, you guessed it, Nuclear power.

32 posted on 09/23/2005 4:27:33 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: KevinDavis

Ping!


33 posted on 09/23/2005 4:31:28 PM PDT by Las Vegas Dave ("Liberals out of power are comical-Liberals in power are dangerous!"-ElRushbo quote.)
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To: JohnBovenmyer
He neglects discussing how to reenter his creation. His model, the Saturn V, wasn't designed for that task. He may have the power, but do his engines have the precise control needed for a soft landing? What design compromises will be needed and how much mass will he have to add to make that work?

Oops, found it. it is in the article above, only it's a really small one line:

Let's design the vehicle for a total DeltaV of 15 km per second. This is very high for a LEO booster, but the reason for it is to allow enough reaction mass to perform a powered descent. In other words, this is a true spaceship, that flies up and then can fly back down again.

34 posted on 09/23/2005 4:42:51 PM PDT by tricky_k_1972 (Putting on Tinfoil hat and heading for the bomb shelter.)
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To: tricky_k_1972
Fission reactor with a leak, I like it. I would much rather see this built in orbit for fast (real fast) trips to the Moon and Mars and a rebuild of the Saturn 5 to boost the required hardware. Enviro weenies can't complain and the Saturn 5's safety record was 100%. Not to mention, the Saturn 5 was just cool.....
35 posted on 09/23/2005 5:36:58 PM PDT by Decepticon (The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years......)
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To: prophetic
Orion Project - 1958-1964 planned a long-range manned spacecraft powered by pulsed thermo-nuclear explosions. (H-bombs). Project carried out by Theodore Taylor; it was the brainchild of physicist Freeman Dyson. http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/O/OrionProj.html
36 posted on 09/23/2005 5:38:52 PM PDT by edwin hubble
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To: edwin hubble

oh yes... The project was cancelled. Considered risky.


37 posted on 09/23/2005 5:40:25 PM PDT by edwin hubble
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To: edwin hubble
oh yes... The project was cancelled

I was just thumbing through my old Starflight Handbook, the concept was actually tested with the Put-Put....I love those days. That being said, Anthony Tate's numbers for specific impulse are definitely on the conservative side for a gaseous core fission engine....I would pull a tooth to see this built.

38 posted on 09/23/2005 5:55:02 PM PDT by Decepticon (The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years......)
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To: rightwingcrazy
The main obstacles to nuclear propulsion seem to be political rather than technical.

That's why we can't launch from the US, but any place that is reasonably close to the equator will do. Is Mexico hungry enough?

39 posted on 09/23/2005 6:14:36 PM PDT by BlazingArizona
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To: Decepticon
<>. Enviro weenies can't complain...

But they will anyway, being enviros - there just isn't a whole lot they can do about it.. They tried to stop Galileo and Cassini, didn't they, which also operated only outside the Earth's atmosphere.

40 posted on 09/23/2005 6:18:18 PM PDT by BlazingArizona
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To: tricky_k_1972
Yep, but the only way to develop a sustained power source capable of providing this powerful of a laser is, you guessed it, Nuclear power.

With the difference being that a ground-based nuke is inherently safer than a flying nuke

41 posted on 09/23/2005 6:56:42 PM PDT by SauronOfMordor (Never try to teach a pig to sing -- it wastes your time and it annoys the pig)
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To: tricky_k_1972

We definitely need a far more powerful engine, most likely nuclear, to do any of these far away trips. What we use now is simply not capable.


42 posted on 09/24/2005 7:18:52 AM PDT by meema
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To: RightWhale; Brett66; xrp; gdc314; anymouse; RadioAstronomer; NonZeroSum; jimkress; discostu; ...

43 posted on 09/24/2005 8:24:36 AM PDT by KevinDavis (the space/future belongs to the eagles --> http://www.cafepress.com/kevinspace1)
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To: RightWhale; Brett66; xrp; gdc314; anymouse; RadioAstronomer; NonZeroSum; jimkress; discostu; ...

44 posted on 09/24/2005 8:24:45 AM PDT by KevinDavis (the space/future belongs to the eagles --> http://www.cafepress.com/kevinspace1)
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To: tricky_k_1972; All

I think that the prizes that NASA is offering is a way to go.. SOMETHING THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE YEARS AGO!


45 posted on 09/24/2005 8:26:11 AM PDT by KevinDavis (the space/future belongs to the eagles --> http://www.cafepress.com/kevinspace1)
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To: KevinDavis
Thanks for the ping.

Just another example of the types of thing that are proposed out there that NASA should be taking advantage of. We need to get serious about space travel, and not just for national security reasons. It seems that any proposal that has a chance at allowing access to the solar system and eventually the wider universe should be up for testing. They represent a relatively low government cost high payoff concept. Instead we gave $50 billion to Africa, a prize for most screwed up way to run a continent from what I can tell.
46 posted on 09/24/2005 9:43:21 AM PDT by Hawk1976 (DU, more toxic than New Orleans water.)
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To: Hawk1976
Instead we gave $50 billion to Africa

They, our masters, could create the legal environment in outer space that would allow private ownership and private development of space resources. Until then, the anti-gov forces who don't want NASA to get a dime sound just like those whining 'poor people' who couldn't get their govcheck cashed so they could get out of Houston.

For those who want private industry in outer space, remember that FedGov is now able to create corporations. Can you imagine Amtrak trying to mine the asteroids? Yet, nobody can compete with Amtrak. NASA go private? Be careful what you wish for.

47 posted on 09/24/2005 10:15:43 AM PDT by RightWhale (We in heep dip trubble)
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To: RockyMtnMan
Unfortunately, a more likely scenario is that we would start such a development program, get bogged down in EIS's, other bureaucratic reviews, and lawsuits and then the ChiComs would steal the plans and build it.
48 posted on 09/24/2005 10:43:05 AM PDT by Truth29
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To: tricky_k_1972; RightWhale; NicknamedBob; Dawsonville_Doc; Army Air Corps; Dead Corpse; ...

a few years ago I stumbled across a project in Florida concerning a new type of solid-core nuclear hydrogen rocket.

I lost the link at some point.

IIRC - the core was to be 1m in diameter, made from a stack of ten fissile grids, each 10cm thk.

do you know anything about this project?

as to this article - I like it. Sounds worth pursuing aggressively.


49 posted on 09/24/2005 11:02:03 AM PDT by King Prout (19sep05 - I want at least 2 Saiga-12 shotguns. If you have leads, let me know)
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To: RightWhale

I found out about the KIWI and its descendants shortly after I reinvented the concept in high school chemistry class.

IIRC, it had a thrust to mass ratio of more than double that of the best MODERN chemical rocket.

true?


50 posted on 09/24/2005 11:07:27 AM PDT by King Prout (19sep05 - I want at least 2 Saiga-12 shotguns. If you have leads, let me know)
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