High Performance Ultra-light Nuclear Rockets for NEO (Near Earth Objects) Interaction Missions

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The performance capabilities and technology features of ultra compact nuclear thermal rockets based on very high power density ({approximately} 30 Megawatts per liter) fuel elements are described. Nuclear rockets appear particularly attractive for carrying out missions to investigate or intercept Near Earth Objects (NEOS) that potentially could impact on the Earth. Many of these NEO threats, whether asteroids or comets, have extremely high closing velocities, i.e., tens of kilometers per second relative to the Earth. Nuclear rockets using hydrogen propellant enable flight velocities 2 to 3 times those achievable with chemical rockets, allowing interaction with a potential NEO threat at ... continued below

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32 p.

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Powell, J.; Maise, G.; Ludewig, H. & Todosow, M. December 31, 1996.

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Description

The performance capabilities and technology features of ultra compact nuclear thermal rockets based on very high power density ({approximately} 30 Megawatts per liter) fuel elements are described. Nuclear rockets appear particularly attractive for carrying out missions to investigate or intercept Near Earth Objects (NEOS) that potentially could impact on the Earth. Many of these NEO threats, whether asteroids or comets, have extremely high closing velocities, i.e., tens of kilometers per second relative to the Earth. Nuclear rockets using hydrogen propellant enable flight velocities 2 to 3 times those achievable with chemical rockets, allowing interaction with a potential NEO threat at a much shorter time, and at much greater range. Two versions of an ultra compact nuclear rocket based on very high heat transfer rates are described: the PBR (Particle Bed Reactor), which has undergone substantial hardware development effort, and MITEE (Miniature Reactor Engine) which is a design derivative of the PBR. Nominal performance capabilities for the PBR are: thermal power - 1000 MW thrust - 45,000 lbsf, and weight - 500 kg. For MITEE, nominal capabilities are: thermal power - 100 MW; thrust {approx} 4500 lbsf, and weight - 50 kg. Development of operational PBR/MITEE systems would enable spacecraft launched from LEO (Low Earth Orbit) to investigate intercept NEO`s at a range of {approximately} 100 million kilometers in times of {approximately} 30 days.

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32 p.

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OSTI as DE97001539

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  • International conference on near-earth objects, New York, NY (United States), 23-26 Apr 1995

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  • Other: DE97001539
  • Report No.: BNL--63581
  • Report No.: CONF-9504147--3
  • Grant Number: AC02-76CH00016
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 432864
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc688558

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • December 31, 1996

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • July 25, 2015, 2:20 a.m.

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  • Nov. 20, 2015, 8:45 p.m.

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Powell, J.; Maise, G.; Ludewig, H. & Todosow, M. High Performance Ultra-light Nuclear Rockets for NEO (Near Earth Objects) Interaction Missions, article, December 31, 1996; Upton, New York. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc688558/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.