Ground Testing a Nuclear Thermal Rocket: Design of a sub-scale demonstration experiment

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In 2008, the NASA Mars Architecture Team found that the Nuclear Thermal Rocket (NTR) was the preferred propulsion system out of all the combinations of chemical propulsion, solar electric, nuclear electric, aerobrake, and NTR studied. Recently, the National Research Council committee reviewing the NASA Technology Roadmaps recommended the NTR as one of the top 16 technologies that should be pursued by NASA. One of the main issues with developing a NTR for future missions is the ability to economically test the full system on the ground. In the late 1990s, the Sub-surface Active Filtering of Exhaust (SAFE) concept was first ... continued below

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Bedsun, David; Lee, Debra; Townsend, Margaret; Cooper, Clay A.; Chapman, Jennifer; Samborsky, Ronald et al. July 1, 2012.

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In 2008, the NASA Mars Architecture Team found that the Nuclear Thermal Rocket (NTR) was the preferred propulsion system out of all the combinations of chemical propulsion, solar electric, nuclear electric, aerobrake, and NTR studied. Recently, the National Research Council committee reviewing the NASA Technology Roadmaps recommended the NTR as one of the top 16 technologies that should be pursued by NASA. One of the main issues with developing a NTR for future missions is the ability to economically test the full system on the ground. In the late 1990s, the Sub-surface Active Filtering of Exhaust (SAFE) concept was first proposed by Howe as a method to test NTRs at full power and full duration. The concept relied on firing the NTR into one of the test holes at the Nevada Test Site which had been constructed to test nuclear weapons. In 2011, the cost of testing a NTR and the cost of performing a proof of concept experiment were evaluated.

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  • Joint Propulsion Conference,Atlanta, GA,07/29/2012,08/02/2012

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  • Report No.: INL/CON-12-26693
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-05ID14517
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1055989
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc838277

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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.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • July 1, 2012

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • June 20, 2016, 1:58 p.m.

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Bedsun, David; Lee, Debra; Townsend, Margaret; Cooper, Clay A.; Chapman, Jennifer; Samborsky, Ronald et al. Ground Testing a Nuclear Thermal Rocket: Design of a sub-scale demonstration experiment, article, July 1, 2012; Idaho Falls, Idaho. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc838277/: accessed October 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.