Encyclopedia Astronautica
N1 Nuclear AF

Nuclear/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 800,000/150,000 kg. Thrust 7,840.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 810 seconds. N1 nuclear upper stage study, 1963. Figures calculated based on given total stage thrust, specific impulse, engine mass.

No Engines: 40.

Status: Study 1963.
Gross mass: 800,000 kg (1,760,000 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 150,000 kg (330,000 lb).
Height: 110.00 m (360.00 ft).
Diameter: 13.00 m (42.00 ft).
Span: 13.00 m (42.00 ft).
Thrust: 7,840.00 kN (1,762,500 lbf).
Specific impulse: 810 s.
Burn time: 650 s.

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Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • YaRD Type AF Korolev nuclear/lh2 rocket engine. 196 kN. Study 1963. Design considered in N1 nuclear upper stage studies. Outgrowth of work done by Bondaryuk and Glushko on YaRD engines for nuclear ICBM's, but using liquid hydrogen as propellant. Isp=950s. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • N1 Nuclear AF Russian nuclear orbital launch vehicle. A variant of the first alternative considered in the 1963 nuclear N1 study. This was a 'high thrust' version of the Type A engine - apparently with higher propellant rate, lower specific impulse, and lower engine weight. Due to the very low density of the enormous liquid hydrogen upper stages, these immense vehicles would have been very ungainly (and had interesting stress problems during ascent!) More...

Associated Propellants
  • Nuclear/LH2 Nuclear thermal engines use the heat of a nuclear reactor to heat a propellant. Although early Russian designs used ammonia or alcohol as propellant, the ideal working fluid for space applications is the liquid form of the lightest element, hydrogen. Nuclear engines would have twice the performance of conventional chemical rocket engines. Although successfully ground-tested in both Russia and America, they have never been flown due primarily to environmental and safety concerns. Liquid hydrogen was identified by all the leading rocket visionaries as the theoretically ideal rocket fuel. It had big drawbacks, however - it was highly cryogenic, and it had a very low density, making for large tanks. The United States mastered hydrogen technology for the highly classified Lockheed CL-400 Suntan reconnaissance aircraft in the mid-1950's. The technology was transferred to the Centaur rocket stage program, and by the mid-1960's the United States was flying the Centaur and Saturn upper stages using the fuel. It was adopted for the core of the space shuttle, and Centaur stages still fly today. More...

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