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cjackson
2014-Mar-13, 01:30 AM
If NASA had been able to continue developing NERVA to completion, how different would spaceflight be today? Would unmanned probes be able to reach their destinations any faster? Is nuclear power critical for the future of spaceflight?

Squink
2014-Mar-13, 12:30 PM
Small research outpost on Ganymede?
Here's Wikepedia's depressing take on Nerva history (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NERVA).

ravens_cry
2014-Mar-15, 03:18 PM
I think it'd certainly help. Chemical rockets are all fine and dandy, and tend to have excellent thrust to weight ratios, but they have sharp limits on ISP. We've basically reached that as far as anything remotely practical is concerned, and even the theoretical or experiment possibilities aren't much better.

publiusr
2014-Mar-15, 07:09 PM
Nuclear Electric Propulsion is all the rage these days
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1896/1

NTR/NERVA might be better planet to planet with good thrust as well as better specific impulse.

Nuclear electric is better for a constant flyby probe that doesn't have to deal with gravity wells. Yes, JIMO was going to go to visit moons, but for nuclear electric--I think that would be better for a TAU/interstellar precursor mission, to let the NEP really build speed over time.

danscope
2014-Mar-15, 07:50 PM
Fly-bys only, Vassilly. No brakes. You have to think these things through.

astrogeek
2014-Mar-15, 08:40 PM
space tourism!

NEOWatcher
2014-Mar-17, 12:33 PM
Nuclear Electric Propulsion is all the rage these days
Not according to that article.
1: It's a 2-1/2 year old article.
2: It specifically states that there is no "effort to develop a space nuclear reactor of any kind."

NEOWatcher
2014-Mar-17, 12:36 PM
space tourism!
Being that the high impulse, low thrust is better for long missions, I would say not.

Maybe for long term manned exploration (not tourism) someday, but we have a ways to go in deep space endurance.

cjameshuff
2014-Mar-20, 09:20 PM
I expect the "killer app" for electric propulsion in the near future will be orbital tugs, for positioning new satellites, shipping propellant, and for cleaning up junk, things that particularly benefit from the high specific impulse. The only direct application to space tourism would be propellant transport and stationkeeping.

docmordrid
2014-Mar-22, 08:48 PM
Speaking as someone who has dealt with NRC etc., an often frustrating experience, the regulatory hurdles doom any NTR's or other fission reactors to government projects - and there are none.

OTOH, there's an interesting NIAC project to develop an inertial fusion rocket that's been going for 2 years. The important part is that it bypasses converting fusion products to electricity and uses them directly as reaction mass. Seems to be making good progress.

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docmordrid
2014-Mar-23, 05:17 AM
PS

U. of Washington article on the fusion rocket

http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/04/04/rocket-powered-by-nuclear-fusion-could-send-humans-to-mars/

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Noclevername
2014-Mar-23, 09:55 PM
PS

U. of Washington article on the fusion rocket

http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/04/04/rocket-powered-by-nuclear-fusion-could-send-humans-to-mars/


You should start a thread on that rocket, I'd like to discuss it.