Encyclopedia Astronautica

Gerkules Nuclear Tug
Gerkules Nuclear Electric Interorbital Tug with 11B97 engine.
Credit: © Mark Wade
Electric/Xenon propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 21,000/12,000 kg. Thrust 0.01 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 3000 seconds. At the beginning of the 1990's a new type of nuclear generator was studied, that would have a capacity of 150 kW in the transport role and provide 10-40 kW to power spacecraft systems while coasting. This was designated ERTA (ElecktroRaketnovo Transportnovo Apparat).

Technologies and concepts for this engine were studied by FEI and other organisations. A modular concept was adopted. In 1994 ERTA was studied for launch by Titan, Ariane 5, or Energia-M launch vehicles. The reactor weight was 7500 tonnes and it could provide up to 10 years of electrical power traded off against 1.5 years of powered flight.

No Engines: 12.

Status: Study 1994.
Gross mass: 21,000 kg (46,000 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 12,000 kg (26,000 lb).
Height: 20.00 m (65.00 ft).
Diameter: 4.10 m (13.40 ft).
Span: 25.00 m (82.00 ft).
Thrust: 5.39 N (1.21 lbf).
Specific impulse: 3,000 s.
Burn time: 47,304,000 s.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • 11B97 Korolev nuclear electric/xenon rocket engine. 450 mN. Engine for Interorbital Tug for launch by Energia. Developed 1978-1986. Isp=3000s. Powered by nuclear reactor providing 50-150 kWt for 3 to 5 years operation. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Electric/Xenon The many versions of electric engines use electric or magnetic fields to accelerate ionized elements to high velocity, creating thrust. The power source can be a nuclear reactor or thermal-electric generator, or solar panels. Proposed as propellant for some ion motors. More...

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