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Found 19 results

  1. Personally, I believe that application of nuclear power in space would be very much in our interest. Not only do nuclear thermal rockets offer a major improvement over existing propulsion technologies, but the use of nuclear reactors as power sources for satellites, space probes, and the like could allow for much greater scientific return or utility. However, I realize that nuclear power does have associated risks, and there are others who may feel different. Whether you are for or against the usage of nuclear power in space, I am curious to hear your opinions. For reference, here's an int
  2. There's been a lot written about nuclear energy, radiation, and similar topics. Some of it is good. Most of it isn't. This thread is to post any good resources you've discovered on nuclear topics. Books, articles, random internet pages, anything useful goes here. I'll start with a couple books I've gotten out of the library at work. Most of the stuff in the work library is fairly old, but they're all pretty decent. The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear, by Petr Beckmann (1977) Good comparison of the relative hazards of nuclear power and continued use of fossil fuels, among oth
  3. One of the most commons objections to the use of nuclear power is the waste produced. While nuclear energy produces much less waste by volume than other forms of energy such as coal, the unique properties of the waste mean that there are special challenges associated with disposing of it. In this topic, I'll be talking about high level waste, low level waste has far less challenges associated with its disposal. As not all fissile materials within a fuel element will be used up in a reactor, "spent fuel" (especially that which hasn't been reprocessed) still contains significant quantiti
  4. Metal cooled reactors have several advantages over pressurized water reactors. For one, their power density is greater, additionally, the coolant is unpressurized, improving safety. However, there are some downsides. The Soviets' Project 705 class submarines were powered by liquid metal reactors utilizing a lead-bismuth alloy as coolant. This alloy had a freezing temperature of roughly 400K. As a result, the reactors had to be run constantly, even while the submarines were in port (there were facilities to provide superheated steam to the reactors while the subs were docked, but they broke
  5. I recently began a class on nuclear rocket propulsion, and one of the first topics covered was various nuclear rocket cycles. I'll do my best to explain them using amazing MS Paint drawings and words. The first is the hot bleed cycle. In this cycle, some propellant does not go through the reactor, but is instead shunted off in a different direction. This is mixed with some of the propellant that has passed through the reactor, but not out the rocket nozzle, creating a relatively hot stream of propellant. This propellant is passed through a turbine, which then powers the fuel pump. Aft
  6. This article, specifically; http://businesstech.co.za/news/general/83023/south-africa-refuses-to-let-go-of-its-nuclear-explosives/ As far as I know, the uranium itself should be good for quite a while (235 has a shorter half life than 238, but 704 million years is still damn long). However, I'm not sure about some of the other components, such as the neutron sources. Po-210 only has a half life of 138 days, which means that they'd be long dead. I don't know about the specific design of South African bombs (beyond them being gun type, and therefore using HEU), or whether they have the abili
  7. Also posted here. RD-0410 The history of American efforts to develop nuclear thermal rockets is relatively well known. Similar Soviet efforts have remained far more obscure. However, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union developed and tested an advanced nuclear thermal rocket engine, designated the RD-0410. Unfortunately, relatively little English-language information about the RD-0410 can be found (at least in easily available sources). Similar to the American NERVA program, development of Soviet nuclear rocketry began in the mid-1950s. Serious research began in 1955, with developme
  8. An interesting approach to cooling the nuclear fuel; http://atomic-skies.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-liquid-jet-super-flux-reactor.html If you're able to keep your fuel cooler, you can increase your neutron flux, and with it your power density. This could be highly important in applications where you're space or mass limited. Such as, for instance, a submarine, or a rocket engine.
  9. 10 out of 10 respondents agree that having your country hit by ICBM/SLBMs is a negative experience. How, then, can we prevent such a calamity from occurring. Skillful diplomacy ballistic missile defense! But how should a country like the US go about defending against errant ballistic missiles? Can we defend against a strike by the whole of the USSR Russia's arsenal? What about a smaller country, such as the PRC, or France (those Euros look shifty). Should we try to defend military targets, such as ICBM silos and bomber bases, or civilian population centers? How are we going to kill the
  10. I raised an eyebrow at a comment Weaponsman made about the Iranian nuclear program: This isn't true. The vast majority of reactor designs require fuel with varying degrees of enrichment. Natural uranium is only .7% fissile material, and light water reactors typically need around 3% enriched material as fuel. The British CO2-cooled designs need about the same level of enrichment for their fuel. The Soviet RBMK used to be able to use natural uranium, but there was a hasty redesign to make them less explodey, so they cannot anymore and require fuel enriched to 2% or so. Only the CAN
  11. So You Want to Build a Fission Bomb? There are many reasons why one may want to build a fission bomb. Killing communists, for example, or sending a spacecraft to one of the outer planets. Building a bomb is not easy, but it can be done (see also Project, Manhattan). Even with publicly available information. Obviously, I’m not going to detail every little bit of our hypothetical bomb down to the last millimeter of wiring. First, I don’t know all that. If I did know it, posting it here might earn me a very long vacation to ADX Florence. The stuff here is just some equations and such to give
  12. During the Cold War, many neutral states made efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Very few of these resulted in a working bomb. One of these failures was Switzerland; http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Library/Swissdoc.html Interestingly, the Swiss also managed to cock up their nuclear power program; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucens_reactor
  13. The Manhattan Project gets all the glory(it deserves it), but the Soviets quickly developed their own atomic weapons. They had some help through espionage, but I think it might be another piece of McCarthyism to dismiss Soviet atomic scientists. Here is a post on the Nuclear Secrecy Blog on the early program. Good insight, but not the end-all-be-all of information on the subject. A Model of the First Lightning/Joe 1 bomb?
  14. Looking around at various information sources available to me, there's quite a lot of information on what the west though of the SS-20. Anecdotally (speaking to a family member who was a Pershing II crewman in the late 1980s), the SS-20 was generally inferior to the Pershing II (especially in accuracy), but it was generally felt that this didn't matter, due to the SS-20's quite large warhead (incidentally, according to previously mentioned family member, the main thing on the minds of Pershing II crewmen was how to quickly GTFO the launch site). I'm curious as to how the Soviets regarded t
  15. This thread is for discussion of various fusion reactions, and their utility in power generation, weaponry, and the like. Personally, I have an irrational love for hydrogen-boron fusion, for reasons that I do not understand. I should seek help.
  16. For those of you who are not familiar with him, Robert Zubrin is an American aerospace engineer and author of some note. He is probably best known for his advocacy of the 'Mars Direct' proposal, although he's also done quite a bit of work in the nuclear spacecraft propulsion field (he's the guy that came up with the NSWR). His wiki page says he's also written on other vaguely political topics, but I'm not familiar with them. Personally, I find his work on spacecraft propulsion highly interesting, and it's good that we've got somebody putting forth cogent ideas for space exploration. How
  17. This thread is for discussion of ICBM basing options, as outlined in the linked paper (written in 1980). While some of them seem absurd (dirigible basing!), others appear to be more realistic.
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