Re: [gundam] Civilian Space Travel

Paul Fields (
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 10:57:00 -0500

>At 10:05 3/31/99 -0500, you wrote:
>>What about nuclear engines? I know people made a big fuss about a rocket
>>was launched a year or so back because it had a nuclear power source...
>>some kind of reactor work, or do I just have a misunderstanding of the way
>>things work?
> I'm not qualified to say much, but a nuclear REACTOR can only
>provide power, not thrust.. current tech require a propellant, using
>action-reaction to push the vehicle forward, but nuclear reactors generate
>power by heating water/medium (as far as I know..=) to drive a turbine. But
>there was this idea to detonate _nukes_ to propel a spacecraft...
> Nuclear reactors will probable be used in any major spacecrafts of
>the future along with solar power, since any other current powerplant is
>unreliable enough/ uses too much fuel for use in space. I read something
>about a fuel cell somewhere when I was younger, can anyone bring me up to
>date? Anyway, the hoo-haa about the spacecraft you mention was because pple
>were afraid a leak will contaminate the atmosphere.. not an unwarranted
>fear, but still..
>Lim Jyue
>ICQ: 24737555

Well there was that fear of polluting, but there are other Nuclear
with less pollutant thrust.

One use your nuclear reactor to power your Ion Drive (the ship mentioned
earlier probably had a thermal reactor that used a decaying lump of isotope
to provide power for the satellite or probes power, not very dirty, just
give off enough power for manned expeditions, we use agitated reactions to
get more power out of the isotopes, and that's why you need lots of
which is heavy, or you keep the reactor half a mile from the crew quarters
that extra half mile of ship gets heavy too.)

Two (this one I got from Jim Baen, and Robert Heinlein) basically you get a
bunch of lasers together in a sphere shaped like a soccer ball, each facing
of the sphere has a laser embedded into it, and one facing also has a rail
gun in it, the rail gun launches pellets into the sphere, at the center of
sphere, the lasers converge, and all at once burn off the coating of the
This is supposed to happen quickly and with explosive force, just like the
detonated explosives in a nuclear bomb that make the core material go
supercrititcal, you get the pellet material to go off, much less critical,
but it
makes a great propellant. The problem is you have to saw off part of the
sphere, and put more lasers at the outer edge of it that will make bank
off the pellet to make up for the rest of the sphere not being there,
your are opening up the side of a laser driven fusion reactor to get the
of the reaction to push you... (no Heinlein never published it, Jim said he
toying with it once.)


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