Friday, July 12, 2013

America (almost) had a nuclear rocket in 1970

Did you know that the United States was developing a nuclear rocket in the 1960’s that was to fly astronauts into deep space, beyond Moon, after the completion of the Apollo program?  The program was called NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application) and if it had been funded through completion, then we would have today a rocket capable of taking people to Mars, Venus and beyond using only about the half the fuel that is required to take the same voyage using traditional chemical rockets.

Before it was canceled by the Nixon Administration, the NERVA Program successfully demonstrated a functioning nuclear rocket engine in the Nevada desert.  An untested but still functional nuclear rocket engine was on display at The US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL for several years before it was moved back to the Marshall Space Flight Center where it is standing today.   That’s me in the picture, standing in front of the NERVA engine with Kelvin Long (Editor, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society).

I’m not recommending or advocating – just sayin’.

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