Encyclopedia Astronautica
nuclear-powered


Category of engines.

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Associated Launch Vehicles
  • YaKhR-2 Russian nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. First large space launcher considered in the Soviet Union. It would have had the same layout as the R-7, but with six strap-ons increased in size by 50%. The core, igniting at altitude, used a nuclear thermal engine using ammonia as propellant. Dropped in favor of development of conventional chemical propulsion. More...
  • Orion OLV American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Nuclear-pulse drive launch vehicle seriously developed by General Atomics in the United States from 1955-1965. The design allowed vast payloads of hundreds of tons to be hurled to the planets. By 1958 the Orion team saw themselves in direct competition with Von Braun's chemical rockets. They hoped to a land a huge manned expedition on Mars by 1964 and tour the moons of Saturn by 1970. However politically NASA would not argue for the exception to the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty necessary to allow firing of nuclear explosions in space. More...
  • Hyperion 1958 American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Hyperion was considered in 1958 as a ca. 1970 Saturn follow-on. It used a small jettisonable chemical booster stage that contained chemical engines and the LOX oxidizer for the conventional engines. More...
  • Helios American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Study by Kraft Ehricke of a vehicle where the booster stage contains liquid oxygen tanks only and takes the nuclear second stage to the stratosphere. The nuclear sustainer then takes the payload to orbit or escape trajectory. More...
  • Aldebaran American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Immense nuclear pulse launch vehicle proposed by Dandridge Cole. More...
  • DAC Helios ISI American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. As the basic design, but featuring an Improved Specific Impulse chemical stage that used many engines feeding into single large nozzle. More...
  • DAC Helios American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Douglas/Bono 1963 concept for a chemical-boosted / nuclear upper stage launch vehicle, designed as alternatives to the Convair/Ehricke Helios. The baseline version used a nuclear, recoverable upper stage boosted above the atmosphere by a minimum chemical stage. More...
  • RITA C American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Nuclear single-stage-to-orbit booster. More...
  • Nerva 2 American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Version of 1960's nuclear fission engine proposed in 1990's. More...
  • Timberwind American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. DARPA project. Nuclear fission engine using pebble bed reactor with spherical fuel elements. More...

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