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RITA C
Rita C
Rita C
Rita C Nuclear Launch Vehicle
Credit: © Mark Wade
American nuclear-powered single-stage-to-orbit booster. Same engine chamber used to burn liquid oxygen and hydrogen for boost phase, switching to pure nuclear thermal engine for high-performance final acceleration.

Status: Study 1963. Payload: 454,500 kg (1,002,000 lb). Thrust: 59,572.37 kN (13,392,402 lbf). Gross mass: 4,399,000 kg (9,698,000 lb). Unfuelled mass: 880,000 kg (1,940,000 lb). Specific impulse: 810 s. Specific impulse sea level: 500 s. Burn time: 285 s. Height: 60.00 m (196.00 ft). Diameter: 21.30 m (69.80 ft). Span: 57.90 m (189.90 ft). Apogee: 325 km (201 mi).

Max Hunter and a team of engineers at Douglas proposed this nuclear single-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle in February 1961. The low weight loading on the heat shield meant that re-entry temperatures would not exceed 1100 deg C, which in turn meant that a reusable re-radiative structure could be used. A Thrust-Augmented Thor booster would launch the subscale the RITV test vehicle. This would be equipped with a 8000 kgf Centaur engine, and prove structural concepts, the heat shield design, and reusability for the much larger nuclear-powered production version.

The RITA-A (Nexus) launch vehicle would be equipped with a 91,000 kgf nuclear engine with a specific impulse of 850 seconds. It could take 7300 kg to low earth orbit. Use of a Saturn S-IB first stage would allow it to take 38,200 kg to low earth orbit or 13,600 kg to lunar orbit. First test flight would come as early as 1965.

The RITA-B follow-on vehicle would be equipped with 4 x 200 metric ton thrust nuclear engines with a specific impulse of 950 seconds. The RITA-B would perform a manned Mars mission, with departure in late 1967. A single RITA-B would be refueled in low earth orbit by multiple launches of other RITA-B's. It would then depart for a direct flight to the Martian surface and return. The vehicle could use body lift to produce an L/D ratio of 0.7 for aerobraking to the Martian surface and on return to earth. With a total delta-V capability of 20.7 km/sec, RITA-B was capable of making the flight to Mars in 225 days.

RITA-C would be a shuttle version of the design, for transporting one million pounds of payload to low earth orbit.

LEO Payload: 454,500 kg (1,002,000 lb) to a 325 km orbit.

Stage Data - RITA C

  • Stage 1. 1 x RITA C. Gross Mass: 4,399,000 kg (9,698,000 lb). Empty Mass: 880,000 kg (1,940,000 lb). Thrust (vac): 96,507.000 kN (21,695,636 lbf). Isp: 810 sec. Burn time: 285 sec. Isp(sl): 500 sec. Diameter: 21.30 m (69.80 ft). Span: 57.90 m (189.90 ft). Length: 50.30 m (165.00 ft). Propellants: Nuclear/LH2. No Engines: 4. Engine: NERVA/Lox Mixed Cycle. Status: Study 1963. Comments: Same engine chamber used to burn liquid oxygen and hydrogen for boost phase, switching to pure nuclear thermal engine for high-performance final acceleration.



Family: nuclear-powered, orbital launch vehicle. Country: USA. Engines: NERVA/Lox Mixed Cycle. Agency: Douglas. Bibliography: 214, 44.
Photo Gallery

RITA C vs HTOHLRITA C vs HTOHL
Credit: NASA



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