Encyclopedia Astronautica
Nuclear/Air


Nuclear thermal engines use the heat of a nuclear reactor to heat a propellant. For operations in the atmosphere, some aircraft and missile designs of the 1950's would use the heat of the reactor to directly warm ambient air, resulting in virtually unlimited range for the aircraft. Environmental contamination problems could not be solved and these projects were abandoned in both the USA and USSR in the 1960's.

Oxidizer: Nuclear. Fuel: Air.

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Associated Stages
  • Tu-123 Nuclear/Air propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 27,000/7,300 kg. Turbojet using mixed propulsion, either burning kerosene or heating air directly with a nuclear reactor. More...

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