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NASA revived the project of the nuclear missiles?

A series of the flights of Americans to the moon was a triumph rocket, but at the same time and marked the end of an era chemical engines. Machinery the size of a skyscraper brings in a space capsule a little more than a passenger car? With such technology, even a close flight to Mars will be refined, extended in time torture. To move forward, we need a completely different engine.

And its built – project NERVA in the late ‘ 70s culminated in the creation of a working prototype nuclear propulsion for space rockets. She had a huge specific impulse, allowed to reach unprecedented speeds and could serve as a powerhouse for future colonies. One problem – the operating conditions at temperatures above 2727 °C very good associated with the concept of “prohibitive risk”. And the project folded.

Today, when a flight to Mars again occupies the minds of mankind, NASA selects company BWXT Nuclear Energy to 18.8 million dollars to those within two years the possibility of creating such an engine with new types of nuclear fuel. The key is the use of low enriched uranium with isotope 235 to 20 %. Safe, simple nuclear reactor, analogous to those established in some universities in the world.

In parallel, the issue of establishing special fuel “kermet” – ceramic metal mixture, a combination of the most pure tungsten, plus uranium. It is expected to be the most resistant to high temperatures, which operates the nuclear engine. If the calculations show the feasibility of using cermet, the first Assembly can be received already during the year.


Source — NASA

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