Fuel for Russia’s nuclear space engine

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The competition heats up: According to Russian press sources, the first fuel for that country’s nuclear space engine project has now been delivered to Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear energy corporation.

The article is very unclear whether this space engine is a nuclear power plant similar to those used by NASA’s deep space Voyager, Pioneer, and Cassini probes, or whether it is a real nuclear-powered engine designed to provide thrust. Russia has never launched a probe with the former, so that would be an advancement for them, but it would not be a game-changer in the exploration of the solar system. If the latter, however, it will give them the capability no one else has to travel quickly and more efficiently to other worlds.

Based on a careful rereading of the article, I suspect the former.



  • Wayne

    –Have a nice little 60 page booklet, “Nuclear Propulsion for Space,” from the Understanding the Atom Series, USAEC. Oak Ridge, TN. (1971 rev)
    [William R. Corliss & Francis C. Schwenk]

    Library of Congress card catalog number 79-171030

    >It HAS been Google-ized, digitized, & available on-line.

    Describes the “Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application” program (NERVA) of NASA & AEC.

    –Is this the type of technology to which you refer? (as opposed to ion-engines?)

    Now… I wonder why we stopped investigating all this?? It wasn’t for technical-reasons, so it had to have been a political decision.

    We spent a considerable amount on research & producing test-engines at the “Nuclear Rocket & Development Station, Nevada.”
    —References in general details the “PeeWee,” “Phoebus,” “Pluto,” & “Poodle” “nuclear rocket test engines & reactor-components.” Pictures, diagrams, results, factoids.
    –There is, as well a Technical Reading list with 6 References & 4 different films produced on contract with NASA, AEC, and “Aerojet-General Corp.”

    >>The AEC produced 50 different Titles as part of their “Understanding the Atom Series.” All free at the time, & you could order 15 of them at the Visitors Center at the Oak Ridge National Lab. (I just found mine a few months ago. They are dated, but very interesting & from a time when we had infinitely more Hope & Trust for all things Nuclear.)

  • Wayne

    Found two of the films from “NERVA”!

    “NASA Project ROVER NERVA Nuclear Rocket Engine testing”
    11 minutes

    Nuclear Propulsion In Space (1968)
    22 minutes

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