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Old 04-29-2018, 11:36 PM
 
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There is all this talk about going to Mars, and the problem with people wanting to go to Mars, is that it takes so long to get there, that by the time you get off the ship, you can hardly even walk and what not, or so I've read.

So I was wondering why doesn't NASA just invent a nuclear powered shuttle? I mean there is already nuclear fueled submarines and aircraft carriers, so why not a shuttle? Cause with a nuclear fueled shuttle, you could get to Mars a lot faster, with the fuel constantly burning, as oppose to a regular shuttle.

But what do you think?
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Old 04-30-2018, 08:11 AM
 
22,794 posts, read 17,268,975 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
There is all this talk about going to Mars, and the problem with people wanting to go to Mars, is that it takes so long to get there, that by the time you get off the ship, you can hardly even walk and what not, or so I've read.

So I was wondering why doesn't NASA just invent a nuclear powered shuttle? I mean there is already nuclear fueled submarines and aircraft carriers, so why not a shuttle? Cause with a nuclear fueled shuttle, you could get to Mars a lot faster, with the fuel constantly burning, as oppose to a regular shuttle.

But what do you think?
It's not a matter of 'just inventing' one. NASA is working on developing nuclear propulsion systems for spacecraft and actually had looked into it decades ago. Plans were shelved back then because of technological difficulties. But advances in manufacturing, materials science, and engineering have renewed interest in nuclear propulsion as an option. For manned travel to Mars and beyond, much faster propulsion systems then we currently have really are to be desired.
Faster to Mars
A nuclear thermal propulsion rocket engine would use a small nuclear reactor to generate heat from uranium fuel. That thermal energy would then be transferred to a liquid propellant, probably liquid hydrogen, which expands into a gas and is shot out through a nozzle to produce thrust. "So you get the exhaust moving very fast out the back end," Sheehy says.

To begin work on a new NTP rocket engine, NASA awarded an $18.8 million contract to BWXT Nuclear Energy in August 2017. BWXT, which has a long history of making nuclear fuel for the U.S. Navy, will design a nuclear reactor that uses low-enriched uranium nuclear fuel in the form of "Cermet" (ceramic metallic) rods. NASA has also partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne to design an engine that could be mated to the reactor to produce thrust, and NASA will study cryogenic storage options for carrying liquid hydrogen propellant. Finally, NASA and BWXT will work to develop an exhaust capture system that would be used for future ground testing of the NTP engine.

Read more here: https://www.popularmechanics.com/spa...-engines-mars/
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Old 04-30-2018, 09:17 AM
 
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I've lived in Nevada since 1962. While I was in high school, we toured the NRDS (nuclear rocket development site) at what is called the Test Site (where they also tested underground nuclear weapons) in the late 60s. Not sure what happened to the development.
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Old 04-30-2018, 09:18 AM
 
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
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What happens if the rocket explodes on the launch pad or experiences issues on re-entry?
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Old 04-30-2018, 09:19 AM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
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Or they could skip a step and just develop warp drive.
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Old 04-30-2018, 09:23 AM
 
Location: New Mexico
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Default Beyond the Pale

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Originally Posted by reds37win View Post
What happens if the rocket explodes on the launch pad or experiences issues on re-entry?
That's one reason to build that kind of ship in space - not in near-Earth orbit, & never let it land on Earth. We could build major components, transport them to orbit around the moon, build & launch & return to the moon. Travel to & from Earth to the moon, & to the nuclear ship by a local shuttle.
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Old 04-30-2018, 09:27 AM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
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There has already been small nuclear reactors in Earth orbit, most were Soviet/Russian.

Nuclear Reactors for Space - World Nuclear Association
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Old 04-30-2018, 09:37 AM
 
7,168 posts, read 3,920,595 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike555 View Post
It's not a matter of 'just inventing' one. NASA is working on developing nuclear propulsion systems for spacecraft and actually had looked into it decades ago. Plans were shelved back then because of technological difficulties. But advances in manufacturing, materials science, and engineering have renewed interest in nuclear propulsion as an option. For manned travel to Mars and beyond, much faster propulsion systems then we currently have really are to be desired.
Faster to Mars
A nuclear thermal propulsion rocket engine would use a small nuclear reactor to generate heat from uranium fuel. That thermal energy would then be transferred to a liquid propellant, probably liquid hydrogen, which expands into a gas and is shot out through a nozzle to produce thrust. "So you get the exhaust moving very fast out the back end," Sheehy says.

To begin work on a new NTP rocket engine, NASA awarded an $18.8 million contract to BWXT Nuclear Energy in August 2017. BWXT, which has a long history of making nuclear fuel for the U.S. Navy, will design a nuclear reactor that uses low-enriched uranium nuclear fuel in the form of "Cermet" (ceramic metallic) rods. NASA has also partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne to design an engine that could be mated to the reactor to produce thrust, and NASA will study cryogenic storage options for carrying liquid hydrogen propellant. Finally, NASA and BWXT will work to develop an exhaust capture system that would be used for future ground testing of the NTP engine.

Read more here: https://www.popularmechanics.com/spa...-engines-mars/
Not so sure there were unresolvable technical difficulties...just funding issues and needing a launch system. NERVA was pretty successful in all respects.
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Old 04-30-2018, 10:41 AM
 
22,794 posts, read 17,268,975 times
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Originally Posted by markjames68 View Post
Not so sure there were unresolvable technical difficulties...just funding issues and needing a launch system. NERVA was pretty successful in all respects.
I was going by what was said in the article I posted.
One idea for the next-generation rocket engine you'd need is to bring back nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) systems. The technology was studied in the 1950s and 60s, but shelved in the early 70s because of technological challenges, and because there was no clear need for the propulsion system.

Jeff Sheehy, chief engineer of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, says times have changed. Advances in manufacturing, materials science, and engineering have made it possible to design a better fuel element and nuclear reactor than was possible during the Cold War. What's more, and what has really been lacking until now, is a reinvigorated "desire to send crews into deep space," says Sheehy. "I mean the desire has always been there, but the push or the emphasis that NASA has had for the last few years about developing that capability—that has renewed the interest in NTP as an option."

https://www.popularmechanics.com/spa...-engines-mars/
I hadn't heard about NERVA, but it seems that NASA had enough confidence in it to plan a Mars mission by 1978. Congress killed NERVA however because of the cost according to the information in the following Wiki article.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NERVA
Hopefully, this time around something comes of the renewed interest.
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Old 04-30-2018, 04:44 PM
 
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Oh okay. Where does NASA get their funding from? Since a lot of people seem excited to go to Mars, could NASA get funding from them, saying that if they fund the project, that their trips to Mars will be reduced in time by a large amount?
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