allenrb
Personally I am excited to see this, but I wonder if the optics will kill it?

People get upset enough about reactors that don’t move and live inside huge structures of reinforced concrete. Can we convince this segment of the population that launching a small device (with necessarily less shielding) is safe?

Even the most reliable launch vehicles (Falcon 9, Atlas V) are probably not more than ~99% likely to succeed. Can the payload be made safe in the event that it fails to make orbit?

wkat4242
Nice, at least this doesn't seem like one of those horrible 60s designs that spewed radiation everywhere by basically detonating a small nuclear bomb against a pusher plate.

I think nuclear propulsion is there only way forward for interplanetary colonisation because we've long reached the limits of chemical. And ion is too slow.

geijoenr
Definitely a common sense step in the right direction. Humans going anywhere beyond the moon using chemical propulsion seems quite problematic due to all the unsolved issues related to radiation and micro-gravity.

Now talking speculative fiction, the real breakthrough will come if we figure out a way to induce acceleration without an action-reaction process. Just an energy source, and no propellant. Being able to sustain 1g for a few months on a heavy spacecraft means interstellar travel (proxima centaury) would be within grasp.

le-mark
> NASA and DOE are working another commercial design effort to advance higher temperature fission fuels and reactor designs as part of a nuclear thermal propulsion engine. These design efforts are still under development to support a longer-range goal for increased engine performance and will not be used for the DRACO engine.

Anyone have info on how they’re improving on NERVA?

coenhyde
Can we develop a nuclear salt water rocket already?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_salt-water_rocket

Scott Manley video on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvZjhWE-3zM

Basically a controlled thermo nuclear reaction blasting out the back.

"One design would generate 13 meganewtons of thrust at 66 km/s exhaust velocity (or 6,730 seconds ISP compared to ~4.5 km/s (450 s ISP) exhaust velocity for the best chemical rockets of today)."

You certainly wouldn't want to use this to take off from Earth. But we could use it for deep space travel.

protokultur
Kerbal Space Program right again
1bent
Sounds like the system in Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo
dtgriscom
Is a nuclear thermal engine expected to have a higher specific impulse than current-day ion thrusters, or is the benefit a higher absolute thrust?
66666xxx
they always come with something new www.nasa.xxx
sr.ht