Skip to comments.New nuclear engine concept could help realize 3-month trips to Mars
Posted on 10/27/2020 5:25:11 PM PDT by Roman_War_Criminal
Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies (USNC-Tech) has developed a concept for a new Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) engine and delivered it to NASA. Claimed to be safer and more reliable than previous NTP designs and with far greater efficiency than a chemical rocket, the concept could help realize the goal of using nuclear propulsion to revolutionize deep space travel, reducing Earth-Mars travel time to just three months.
Because chemical rockets are already near their theoretical limits and electric space propulsion systems have such low thrust, rocket engineers continue to seek ways to build more efficient, more powerful engines using some variant of nuclear energy. If properly designed, such nuclear rockets could have several times the efficiency of the chemical variety. The problem is to produce a nuclear reactor that is light enough and safe enough for use outside the Earth's atmosphere especially if the spacecraft is carrying a crew.
According to Dr. Michael Eades, principal engineer at USNC-Tech, the new concept engine is more reliable than previous NTP designs and can produce twice the specific impulse of a chemical rocket. Specific impulse is a measure of a rocket's efficiency.
To fuel the concept, UNSC-Tech uses a Fully Ceramic Micro-encapsulated (FCM) fuel to power the engine's reactor. This fuel is based on High-Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU), which is derived from reprocessed civilian nuclear fuel and is enriched to between 5 and 20 percent greater than that of civilian reactors and less than that of naval reactors. The fuel is then encapsulated into particles coated with zirconium carbide (ZrC).
(Excerpt) Read more at newatlas.com ...
The only problem is that when you get to Mars you no longer have any hair.
I wonder if it could be combined with a steam turbine or some other process to produce electricity once on the surface of Mars?
It could be a plot point of Capricorn II - the nuclear way.
Would be great for freight hauling, getting material into place in orbit, especially fuel, robots, support machinery
In order to develop thrust, you have to eject some sort of mass out the back, that's Newton's Law.
Does this nuclear engine eject mass at twice the velocity?
What sort of mass?
How is it accelerated?
Open the pod bay door, Hal...
Looks like the specific impulse is going to dictate that it is going to be used for space travel only.
Not sure, but Newton’s Law might well have some flaws in it that we’re not aware of.
Didn’t scientists recently discover that mass (relativity) cannot be broken down beyond a certain point - meaning there is a finite point for mass and that means the universe is finite as well?
I nominate Hillary Clinton as first president of Marrs!
"Get your ass to Mars...Get your ass to Mars...Get your ass to Mars...Get your ass to Mars..."
nominate Hillary Clinton as reaction mass
Nuclear systems o earth require water for cooling. Since their on space maybe they can get help from HD as they are still successful at building air cooled engines...just a thought
I don’t have any now
Why don’t they just build it bigger and use the Navy nuclear engine?
“to produce electricity once on the surface of Mars?”
Nothing else come close to nuclear power, when you compare the Space Weight And Power (SWAP) trade offs. Something the size of a five gallon bucket could very reliably produce a few megawatts steadily for ten years.
Per pound, or per cubic foot, nuclear power is the hands down winner for Mars bases (where solar panels are additionally vulnerable to storms).
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