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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pilgrim Observer






Here are some images of MPC/Round 2 models 1/100 scale spacecraft The Pilgrim Observer.

From Old Plastic Model Kits"

There was a time when space research was not aimed at the earth's orbit and moon, but at distant planets in our solar system and eventually beyond. Planning went much further than most people are aware. The main limitation was seen as the chemical rocket motor. It could only be fired once and the specific impulse was limited. To overcome these limitations, the United States embarked on a large program to build the nuclear rocket engine. Unlike the nuclear aircraft engine, this program overcame the technical obstacles placed before it was VERY successful. The effort resulted in numerous test engines up through the Phoebes 5000 MW monster, which is still the world's most powerful reactor. The nuclear engines could run at full power for an hour, then be shut down and restarted up to a dozen times or more. Also, the flow of fuel (liquid hydrogen) could be regulated through turbo-pumps to 'throttle' the engine just as one does a car engine. Crew radiation shielding from the engine was less than requirements for cosmic ray shielding. At one point, a KIWI series reactor (KIWI-TNT) was blown up on purpose to test the environmental impact; it was minimal and clean up went quickly. The final result was to be a space rated engine called NERVA, or Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application. Before the project was terminated, many vehicles were designed for deep space exploration based on these amazing engines.

2 comments:

Lieutenant Obvious said...

The Nerva engine would have been a real boon to deep space exploration, but it was not the final word in fission rocket design. The Dumbo nuke motor was theoretically more powerful and efficient, and would have been able to boost a spacecraft to orbit from Earth, something that Nerva was not able to do. It's too bad that We are so afraid of nuclear accidents that we now plan on missions to Mars that take years rather than months, and are inherently more dangerous because of that.

darkstar_ 8619 said...

Why are these nuclear engines not used. It is because of some treaty banning nuclear space propulsion or because they are "scared" for safety reasons because it is nuclear? Submarines and aircraft carriers are all nuclear powered so I don't see what the problem is. Instead we are sending probes out with solar panels and weak ion engines that takes decades to get anywhere.