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Russian is hoping its new nuclear rocket will help it reach the Red Planet, Mars, as well as set up a base on the moon. The rocket will likely be a Nuclear Gas Core Reactor (NGCR) fission rocket design.  (Source: RIA Novosti ?????? ?????)

Russia developed an early nuclear fission engine, the RD-0410 NTP Engine, back in the 1960s.  (Source: Dietrich Haeseler)
While the U.S. dreams of plasma, Russia looks to nuclear

With the Space Shuttles on their way to retirement the U.S. is pouring millions into developing the next generation of manned spacecraft, a return to rocket-mounted capsule designs and departure from the space-plane design of the shuttle.  The Ares I-X underwent its first test flight yesterday. 

In the near-term rockets like the Ares and its foreign competitors will likely retain a chemical booster to provide the thrust and impulse needed to propel the rocket into space.  The critical question, though is what to use once in space to provide the sustained power needed to reach distant targets like the Moon or Mars.

Some are advocating traditional chemical rockets to due to the job.  While expensive and potentially dangerous, they have the advantage of being a thoroughly proven technology.  NASA is also eying non-nuclear plasma rockets as a possible solution.

Now, news has broke that Russia may turn to a nuclear fission engine for its own Mars or Moon mission.  Anatoly Perminov, Russian rocket scientist, mechanical engineer, and acting director of the Russian Federal Space Agency announced at a meeting of the commission on the modernization of the Russian economy that the design would be finalized by 2012 and that full development would take approximately 9 years.

The project will cost approximately 17 billion rubles (over $580 million), a lot of money for the cash-strapped Russian space program.  Still, another Russian space official, Anatoly Koroteyev, president of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics and head of the Keldysh research center, says that the new propulsion system is critical to a successful Mars mission as it will provide the high degree of energy-mass efficiency needed for a fast and cost-effective trip.

He says that Russia's current technology cannot accomplish its goals -- to put a space base on the Moon and send a manned mission to the Red Planet, Mars.

While there are many nuclear rocket designs, including antimatter catalyzed nuclear pulse propulsion, Bussard ramjets, fission-fragmentation, and nuclear electric, the new engine is likely a gas core reactor rocket.  Russia has been working on this type of rocket since 1954.  It claims that the U.S., despite heavy university research into nuclear designs, has only completed 1 use of a fission reactor in space, and that it has completed 30 such uses.

The Nuclear Gas Core Reactor (NGCR) uses highly enriched uranium (U-235 or U-233) injected into a gas jet at pressures of up to 1000 atm and temperatures of up to 70000 K.  Hydrogen is used as a propellant as it provides a high specific impulse.  The fissile core is a cylindrical design and energy is delivered to the hydrogen propellant via alkali metal vapors like Li.  Due to the distance between the walls and nozzle and the fission reactions in the core, the rocket can achieve higher temperature fission and thus greater specific impulse than solid-core designs.

A key challenge will be developing the theory to full predict the behavior of and contain the fission plasma via a magnetic field.  Russia has already done a good deal of work into this topic, but many questions remain unaswered, particularly how the field will react to instability from gravity and inertial forces.

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RE: Ion engines?
By jadeskye on 10/29/2009 12:29:11 PM , Rating: -1
Fucking World of Nerdcraft in here.

Anyone above me been laid?

RE: Ion engines?
By Ratinator on 10/29/2009 1:01:36 PM , Rating: 1
Yes last night actually :-)

PS: That is grade 11 physics.

RE: Ion engines?
By Chaser on 10/29/2009 2:08:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yes last night actually :-)

And they both make the jump to light speed at presisely the same time.

RE: Ion engines?
By Alexvrb on 10/30/2009 1:39:37 AM , Rating: 1
Nah, she faked it.

RE: Ion engines?
By ssjwes1980 on 10/29/2009 1:01:53 PM , Rating: 3
Im sure they have and they probably make more money then youll ever see.

RE: Ion engines?
By pakigang on 11/1/2009 12:29:26 AM , Rating: 2
& they die without taking any of it :p

RE: Ion engines?
By callmeroy on 10/29/2009 2:50:13 PM , Rating: 2
Usually, in my experience in my 30+ years so far on this mud ball we collectively call "earth"....its the people who brag about something the most that actually get whatever that is -- the least. The reason being is any thing beyond just occassional bragging generally hints at security/self esteem issues and wanting to appear closer to a societal norm than they really are.....

Or for the less convulated version....STFU! What does intelligence or lack thereof have to do with getting any action? I know plenty of women that are incredible looking and smart as hell -- and "very fun" to hang out with. :)

RE: Ion engines?
By maverick85wd on 10/29/2009 4:08:04 PM , Rating: 2
and "very fun" to hang out with. :)

Giggity. You hit the nail on the head with the rest, as well.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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