[FPSPACE] nuclear reactors in outer space
kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za
Fri Jun 4 02:41:42 EDT 2004
The item "Boeing to study Neptune mission for NASA" raises a question for when we have nuclear reactor-powered space probes launched around the solar system.
How long can a nuclear rector operate before the need for refueling? How long can it operate at full powerbefore you need to remove fuel cans where used up uranium / plutonium is deforming your tin with, inter alia, gaseous fission products? Someone on this most useful of all email forums will have records for Topaz, US subs etc.
In-flight refueling of a nuclear reactor will add horrendously to your mass & robotic requirements. Alternatives to stretch its life could be postponing it going critical until you have achieved orbit around the planet destination. Only then do you have peak demands for power to transmit data, run plasma engines to shift its orbit between moons, etc. Before that ye olde RTG can run the show.
More information about the FPSPACE