In the last century, Russia and the United States engaged competitively in both a space race and a nuclear technology race. In this century, it appears the two are considering collaborating in turning the fruits of those Cold War showdowns into workable technology that could expand spaceflight operations beyond Earth orbit. On April 15, Russia and NASA (and a handful of other "nuclear club" countries) will convene to talk about building a next-gen, nuclear powered spaceship.
The head of Roscosmos--NASA's Russian counterpart--told Russia's state-owned newswire that states with a high degree of nuclear reactor technology will take part in the talks. So while Roscosmos and NASA are the principal space agencies involved, France, Germany, China, and Japan were also mentioned as potential partners in the report.
Why now? Roscosmos, it turns out, plans to complete a new design for a nuclear spacecraft engine by next year. But while it has big plans for its nuclear technology, it needs some $600 million to build the thing. A good deal of that will likely come from Rosatom, Russia's state nuclear agency. But clearly Roscosmos also seeks international involvement, be it financial or technical.
Nuclear tech has long been envisioned as the enabling technology that will lead to deep space travel, but there is not yet consensus on exactly how to implement it. Russia has previously described its "engine" as a "megawatt-class nuclear space power system." That means it might be of the more conventional electricity-providing variety that would power ion engines or some such, though it could also use reactor heat to eject reaction mass, meaning it would provide thrust as well as electricity.
It's unclear if the Russians will make public their ongoing design April 15th, or exactly what Roscosmos expects to come of the talks. If it turns out Russia and the U.S. sign an unprecedented agreement to explore far-off star systems together riding a jointly-built nuclear spacecraft, expect to read about it here. But don't put your money on it just yet.
I love this idea!
Meeting about it on April 15...now I have a reason to look forward to tax day.
U.S.A shouldn't even be going into space. All they want to do is weapnize it. The U.S governemnt is not spiritually evolved enough to go into space.
At least they are cooperating...now solve world hunger and all the blood for oil programs going on.
Perhaps you mean logical and practical. As in the US government isn't either of those.
jesus christ! how about living in reality...people will explore space whether you like it or not, get a grip last hopey, go to a site that is more suited for you, like wonkers.com
greetings matsci1, i agree, nuclear propulsion should rise again (-:
@Aldrons last turd
Dammit why's the hell do trolls always got to troll!!
@ Aldrons Last Hope.
You say that like any country is "spiritually evolved" enough, name any country and you will find they all have plans to weaponize space.
All governments are the same at the end of the day, which is really the problem. They’re all power hungry and will do anything to get it all for themselves.
It’s a problem all of humanity faces everyday and the only people who don’t see this are blinded by there countries propaganda.
But besides these sad facts the real issue is wherever humans go there will be weapons that go with them. Conflict is inevitable as time in memorial has shown it is how all life grows and changes.
t makes me sick to say this but no amount of spiritually evolution will ever changes this. I wish for a day when it could happen but conflict is written in our DNA.
Nuclear is way too dangerous. I say forget Nuclear as a source for power.
Gentle men, I believe that the greater problem here is weather or not we can trust the Russians with such power in the outer spaces of are solar system, yes are goverment is ineficiant, poorly led and lacking but hopefuly we can change this
Ion power what-ever. Project Orion is where it's at. I doubt they will take this route though. We could have been to Pluto by now. Getting it off the ground is a problem though... You can't honestly take off with nukes. Feel free to join the facebook group, "Revive Project Orion" though.
@Squeehunter - Orion is flawed. The fuel is highly limited, the propulsion system itself is horribly dangerous, far more so than a reactor on a ship, explosions, even in the vacuum of space, of that magnitude can easily damage any vessel and we're not even talking about the horrific levels of radiation that would eat through whatever protective shielding they may have. No Shield is 100% resistent, and nukes at close range make them pointless.
This is a much more sensible approach to the idea of nuclear propulsion. With a reactor on a ship we can actually fuel a larger number of Ion drives, thus boosting dramatically the acceleration of the vehicle. A reactor on board a spacecraft also enables a greater degree of customization of the initial design of the vehicle, we're talking excess energy that can go wherever we like. We could even power a micro-Magnetosphere!
The design of the ship will probably change dramatically in the course of the talks. Hopefully they'll put hydroponic gardens on board eventually and allow family to go up with the astronauts. This thing could get BIG. Wouldn't it be swell to have a mobile lab flying about the solar system?
Heh, I'm naive sometimes, but this time around I think we'll see great things. Fear of the nuke has led us down a very dark path in the last century. We have a new opportunity to rekindle the hopes Einstein and Oppenheimer must have had. A world united under a common goal...get the hell off this rock before it goes.
@Aldron's Lost Soap
What is a fundie doing on a science web-site? You clearly don't understand anything you are commenting on.
@anyone with a brain
Nukes in space is such a good idea, provided you can get it up there safely. Once in space, you don't need to worry about the greenies. Waste becomes reaction mass.
So is this cooperation or a fund raiser? Sounds like Roscosmos has their plan in place, but is a few kopeks short.
Might be a similar deal to the ISS. Press at the time said that NASA wanted nothing to do with the ISS. Next thing you know, NASA/US is on board. And, from what I understand, the major financial partner.
Not saying that it's all bad, just that the motives might be less than altruistic.
I really can't believe the stupidity of some people. Let me get this straight. We shouldn't cooperate on a vehicle that because it has the word "nuclear" in its design, because one party might try to use it as a weapon?
Are you talking about the those same people that have their fingers on enough nuclear bombs to wipe the Earth of life many, many times over?
What in this makes it a better weapon then what is already available? You are talking about a small power plant and ion engines (which only work in space).
And this idea of fearing "weapons in space". What are they going to do, fly it for 100 years or more to get to a planet outside of our solar system, just so they can do what? Crash land and pollute a lifeless planet with radiation?
The simple truth is that NASA is so risk-adverse focused that they have trouble actualizing innovative programs. There recent succcesses have come from trowing money at issues, rather than taking risks.
This is why they could get to the moon on a shoestring in the 60's and you could build a bridge to the moon with all of the money it would take to get them back.
On the other hand, Russia does not have a free press or a long history of giving a rip about some broke eggs in omlet making endevours.
Therefore, the Ruskies innovate, NASA bankrolls.
Governmental spaceflight will continue in other countries for at least a couple decades.
The future is clearly in the Private Sector, however. Government subsidies are only needed long enouh for some private company to figure out a way to self-monetize. Moon-mining, orbital power, orbital-level space tourism (space hotels), or other more exotic models (asteroid mining, etc).
Once a company makes money on its' own, watch the floodgates open as investor dollars pour in.
I am not holding my breath for deeper-space manned programs to come from any government. Private sector will do it better, faster, and sooner...
@ dex drako my point exactly!! no country is spiritually evolved enough to go into space...maybe individuals...but no country is.
I can't beleive they want to go into space without cleaning up our own backyard first...whats the point of going into space if we are going to take our rascism, brutality, greed etc.
We need to spiritually evolve first. We have all this technology which is a great thing, but we are acting like we are in the dark ages....yes it's is in our DNA...but mind over matter.
@aldy's last hurrah, if you feel like ending your tormented soul, take some time in a dark, small room...
@"dr" <--not in this lifetime LMAO chuck...you don't have a lot of time left so use it wisely...after reading all the insults you spew at other commenters I was beginning to feel left out :-)
lol...you are at least worth a good laugh
I try lol
@ Aldrons Last Hope.
Whatever makes you think we aliens are spiritually evolved?
PS Why does CAPTCHA keep testing whether I am a human visitor?
because it's afraid, very afraid
@jayardine because if you were not then you would have blown yourself to pieces before you got out of your star system. And you would have already enslaved earth a long time ago. Thanks for following the prime directive.
Because we are all aliens to A.I
@ Aldrons Last Hope Whatever makes you think those of us who left after the Final War haven't enslaved earth?
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