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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 dsumanik on 10/29/2009 3:14:20 PM , Rating: -1
Well, heres my daily duty to fight off the trolls....

As for you guys getting laid...the nerdcraft wieners are NOT getting any and even if you are shes a gutter rat, guaranteed. You are all the same kids who put up their hands in university to interrupt the professor's lecture just to tell him/her they forgot to put a period at the end of a sentence on the chalkboard... as if the rest of the class didn't notice... even though he was trying to teach a concept, not a grammar lesson. This type of behaviour is not a sign of intellegince, it's a sign of weakness and low self esteem.

The concept is this ( AND WE ALL GET IT!!! JUST SO YOu KNOW!!! ):

A slow acceleration, over time in zero G, will have a massive top speed eventually, and furthermore can be extremely efficient to achieve compared to conventional thrust.

The details beyond this can be filed under :

A) out of your league (quite obviously!)

and

B) Unless you are working on this or a smiliar project.... who really gives a flyin F**k... and likely shouldn't be posting any of your findings here on anandtech.

TO THE NERDCRAFT LOSERS :

Go back and read your arguments....exactly why is it important for you to calculate, or prove or disprove anyone's comments of this article? Have you found yourself doing this sort of thing in other discussions before? If you see missed punctuation, is it a strong desire to correct this IMMEDIATELY, and be the first to do so? Were the key points of this article successfully conveyed without your blathering? Do you feel better after disproving anyones above statements? Do you think anyone else out there thinks it is impressive you caught this "error"

lol, pretty silly isn't it? So why do it?

You argue these petty details in order to try and satisfy a subconcious need for approval from the public audience. You lack the respect you desire and the sense of self confidence and achievement in the real world. It's a dysfunctional attempt to assert some form of pathetic "dominance", and it's why you aren't the boss at work and never will be... you just don't get it at the basic social level.

To stop this behavior you need to find out whats really missing from your life, and it starts with getting the frack off the computer and experiencing something in the real world. My advice? Join a kickboxing club, go hunting or fishing, enter a running race, climb a mountain, buy a motorcycle and start racing at the track.

You need to test yourself and succeed or fail... but either way see if you have some balls.


RE: Ion engines?
By Yaron on 10/29/2009 4:26:04 PM , Rating: 2
Ja mein Reichsfuhrer!

Do you vant me to zend Herr "Ratinator" unt Herr "AnnihilatorX" to ze "showers" immediately?!


RE: Ion engines?
By Ratinator on 10/29/2009 4:45:52 PM , Rating: 1
Wow, someone's cornflakes are a darker yellow than usual.

You might want to make a comparison that has a little more relevancy to it. A period is minor.....a complete miscalculation isn't. If you don't think it is, tell that to your doctor the next time he is prescribing your medication and see how that works out for ya.

B) this isn't anandtech, this is DailyTech - oh sorry I corrected you. I bet you have really flown off the handle now.

PS: As for the gutter rat comment.....if you were any where near me you would have your block knocked off as that is my wife you are talking about.


RE: Ion engines?
By MrPoletski on 10/30/2009 6:48:08 AM , Rating: 1
woah, dummy spitt-a-thon from dsumanik.

Who bit your pillow this morning?


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