NASA Planning Nuclear Propulsion Mission to Jupiter

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Mr. Anderson, Mar 21, 2003.

  1. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #1
    http://www.nuclearspace.com/a_jimo.html

    This is very cool and could open up all sorts of possiblities :D Of course, there will always be the 'what if' scenarios dealing with using nuclear fuled systems. But what we'll be able to do here is open up the solar system to a much greater range of missions.

    D
     
  2. cubist macrumors 68020

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    #2
    The nuclear reactor powers an ion drive ... Isn't that the same propulsion mechanism used by the Discovery in the Jupiter mission in "2001 A Space Odyssey"?
     
  3. Mr. Anderson thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #3
    hmmm, that I wouldn't know. But its basically an electrical ion engine using a nuclear reactor as a power source. The little test probe, DeepSpace1 used an Ion Engine, but it got its power, electricity, from solar panels.

    When you travel so far from the sun, it makes getting the required energy from sunlite all that more difficult.

    The website I found this on is very pro space nuclear - they even have examples of Earth to Orbit propulsion systems uses nuclear powered thermal rockets. Nutso and something we probably won't soon or ever.

    The JIMO project won't use the ion/nuclear engine until it gets into space.

    D
     
  4. Stelliform macrumors 68000

    Stelliform

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    #4
    This is very cool stuff. The ion propultion engine in theory is the next gigantic leap in space propulsion. I hope it works well.
     
  5. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #5
    Actually in the deep space one mission where the ion drive was fueled by solar panels, a larger version would be powered by a small nuclear power plant which would generate the electricity to power the motor if iam not mistaken, the great thing about this is you have constant thrust, unlike chemicals where you use what you have and thats it. This would be the first real step to openening the solar system to us. With a good working motor we would have a way to explore with human explorers.
     
  6. Maclicious macrumors regular

    Maclicious

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    #6
    Cosmos 1, a solar sail prototype, is also being launched soon. The idea is that while the sun can provide most of the impetus on this one, eventually we'd like to beam microwaves at really big sail, allowing us to push these things around the solar system at a huge speed but without reaction mass. That'd be too cool.

    But, a nuclear powered ion propulsion device is also SWEET!
     
  7. Mr. Anderson thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #7
    Solar sails are nice and will work, but its a one way trip ;) Not that most of these probes aren't but for future propulsion technologies, the idea of a fission driven electic ion engine has so much potential. Some day these or their derivative will be what manned space craft use.

    D
     
  8. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    #8
    Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle were always equipping their interstellar travelers with Bussard Ramjets, does anyone know if any serious work has been put into the ramjet idea, or is the tech still beyond us?

    It always seemed such a cool way to travel.

    I love the ion drive idea, the "constant thrust" DHM talked of is the real key to succesful sub-light travel within the solar system, you could get up to a really significant fraction of lightspeed given the distance, which is basically all you've got between the planets:)

    I hope someone gets a practical handle on Hawkings FTL theory work, we really need FTL travel as soon as possible, getting off planet in the solar system is one thing, but it's a bit limited in the relocation stakes. Outsystem is the way to go.
     
  9. Mr. Anderson thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #9
    Robert Bussard actually worked as a consultant for my company a couple years before I started there. He's the guy who came up with the thing. Anyway, ramjets are whats being developed currently for the Space Plane, actually I think they're Scramjets. Not a very difficult thing in theory, reality is something else. The only thing is, it requires an atmosphere with oxygen in order to work. Relying on the atmosphere and pressure built up in the chamber to cause the combustion. So you only really need to have fuel, not oxidizer. That and intial pressures that will make the whole thing work, which means you have to be at a certain speed.

    Anyway check here for more info.

    D
     
  10. Maclicious macrumors regular

    Maclicious

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    #10
    I agree, the ion engine is great!

    Robert Forward (RIP) had an idea worked out for sending great reflectors far in advance of the the sail you wanted to slow down (these wouldn't slow down). It's weird, I grant you, and seems to cumbersome for intersteller craft to my mind. But, for in-system traffic (inside the orbit of Mars, or maybe even Jupitor once we get some bases there), beaming solar sail-enabled ships from various locations (so we can accelerate them, then decelerate them) will be cheaper than carrying reaction mass everwhere.

    But, maybe we'll figure out how to generate 0-point energy, and this'll all be moot :) heh heh.
    (Of course, the second we do that, the next second some unscrupulous government will figure out how to make an explosive truly deserving of the name Mother Of All Bombs. Darn.)
     
  11. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #11
    Actually a solar sail would use energy from the sun to move,not practical unless you want something to move slowly . And beaming microwave energy to a collector would not be feasable due to the inverse square law. But a ion drive would be fanatastic considering what we have now. No it wont take us to the next star but it would allow us to move around ours.
     
  12. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    #12
    Thanks Duke, I'd forgotten the scramjet, same principle. I seem to remember one of the problems was the density of the hydrogen than would be funnelled in to the 'jet to be fused, and how to initally power the EM grid that would do the funnelling before fusion was achieved, no one really knows if there's enough of he stuff oout there to get the 'jet working.

    Wasn't there also a problem with the radiation from the fusing hydrogen being fatal to anyone riding the craft?

    Malicious: When did Robert Forward die? I loved his Dragon's Egg books, the science was always so clean in his stories, it really made sense, it's a shame he's gone.

    Manipulating gravity may be the best hope we have of FTL and unlimited power generation.
     
  13. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #13
    scramjet still needs some atmosphere to be used and is what we need to be able to get to orbit, Wintermute has it right on the antigravity and ftl. Even now if we could just get to1/4 of light that would be enormous. I hate to make mention of this in this thread but what if there was some truth to what happened in roswell. If this really happened it would have all those technologies we need.
     
  14. Maclicious macrumors regular

    Maclicious

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    #14
    I didn't see myself being the champion of the solar sail concept... but I guess it's the money I've given to the Planetary Society and their upcomming launch. :).

    Anyway, you're right about the inverse square law making small solar sails impractical without a large cross-section. That's why a useable solar sail would have to be HUGE, and constructed with bucky-ball-like tubes of elongated carbon fiber to make a sail mass next to nothing.

    Anyhow, a lot of people are spending a lot of time on this concept, so there is something to it.
    At the least, check out this sweet website:

    http://www.u3p.net/som_a.htm
     
  15. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #15
    thanks for the post, i use to be a member for many years and finally just stopped. Anything other then chemical would be a big help. using chemical in space is like us to be computing on a 030 or 040 machine. It is time to replace chemical rockets.
     
  16. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    #16
    I've always assumed that the fact we DON'T see american craft exhibiting the kind of dynamics attributed to the Roswell "craft" sort of meant it didn't happen, after all this time we'd have the tech flying and claiming we'd just invented it wouldn't we?

    I think the impact of that level of tech would have been enormous, we'd be seeing massive leaps in computing power and styles, huge levels of integration, portable super-computers constructed from exotic alloys...

    Hang on, we've got those...

    Hmm, where did Steve say he was from, he's the right age you know, has strange powers...

    That's it! STEVE JOBS IS AN ALIEN...

    (going for a lie down)
     
  17. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #17
    Lol, if roswell was true dont you think that technology would be so far above our heads that it may take 25-50-75 years or more to figure it out if ever? it would be like us handing over a f14 tomcat to the wright brothers and say here it is build one! Also if something like this ever happened unless it was in a public place iam sure any government would do all it could to keep it under wraps. Another point to make about roswell is that there are some very strange things the air force did at the time. Sorry for the off thread but having been on a nuc sub i know that a small version of a power plant could be made to power the ion engine and presto where sailing in space. Now if we could just keep the politicians/bueracrats from jacking this price up.
     
  18. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    #18
    At least the Wright Bros would be able to recognise the principles at work in the Tomcat, if Roswell happened, as you say, the tech may well be an order of magnitude above our understanding.

    Would a subs nuclear plant be small enough? I thought those things were BIG, mind, build it in orbit, no need to ship the whole thing up the well in one piece.

    I think the engineering involved in many of these plans begins to get a lot simpler when you get to orbit, the craft doesn't need to be flown out of the gravity well, it needn't be designed for gravity at all, interplanetary craft should be just that.
     
  19. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #19
    the powerplant was big,but that was a while back and newer technologies have come into place. also that was for a whole boat, you wouldnt need so much for a smaller spacecraft. I think the right brothers would be stumped. i dont think they would know what to make of computer chips? jet engines? how about a Lcd or Crt. see what i mean. I think the major problem with a ion drive ship would be where do you build it. Build most of it here and then have to shoot it up, build sections here and shoot them up and then assemble in space. Or since this is a true spacecraft build the main ship in space( of coarse consisting of many parts fab here on earth and shot up. This will be the biggest problem i see. Space the Final Frontier!
     
  20. topicolo macrumors 68000

    topicolo

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    #20
    Actually, on a similar note, there is now research on nuclear powered aircraft that would be able to stay up in the air for months at a time. The powerplants are apparently powered by plutonium decay, not fission or anything, but they can be pretty dangerous if they blew up in the sky.
     
  21. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #21
    Not very safe if you ask me, but i am all for a nuclear powered ion drive spacecraft,maybe a new check box on your tax form. Do you want a dollar to go to this fund? you bet here's my buck.
     
  22. Mr. Anderson thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #22
    Bussard again developed ideas for the nuclear powered aircraft way back in the 60s and maybe in the late 50s. Crazy concept - but if you look at some of the other things at www.nuclearspace.com they actually have video footage of a nuclear powered jet/rocket engine.

    And yes, any mistake or a crash would not be good. I can't imagine these type of aircraft ever being built, but who knows. I remember seeing an article in Popular Science about it and they speculated that there actually were planes like these built that would stay up in low orbit for a month at a time. Well before the space program too, so that would make the crew and pilots the first actual astronauts if it ever turns out to be true.

    D
     
  23. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #23
    TIE fighters from Star Wars used ion engines (Twin Ion Engine). :D


    Lethal
     
  24. Mr. Anderson thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #24
    Which is quite funny since Ion Engines rely on fuel efficiency and long periods of low thrust to gain any real speed. For a fighter to have an ion engine, well, they wouldn't be zipping around, that's for sure.

    But hey, there's no fun in that ;)

    D
     
  25. irmongoose macrumors 68030

    irmongoose

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    #25
    Awww I can see the whole Space Odyssey series coming true now... nuclear propulsion mission to Jupiter's moons, and especially Europa, and then the Chinese getting into the space act... all was "predicted" by Arthur C. Clarke and written in his books... READ IT. It's amazing how many things have come true from his books...

    Oh, and Clarke also invented the satellite... shows how great his mind is in terms of these things..



    irmongoose
     

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