Part 9

I think it is interesting that the most important piece of hardware that enables NPP is in production right now: The Launch Abort System on the SLS. Any well designed capsule/tower combination makes getting the “pulse unit” primary components into space safely fairly straightforward.

You see to transport the fissile “pits” into space you have to do it with extreme insurance that the HEU or Plutonium does not get blown into a cloud of radioactive debris in the event of a launch anomaly. A capsule/escape tower is about the most foolproof arrangement ever devised for that very purpose. If the pits are appropriately packaged large numbers can be carried and even if the capsule is seriously damaged to the point where humans might not survive, the pits would easily come through it.

In regards to “something much better”, the concept most likely to be what everyone would expect in a nuclear propulsion system has had much theoretical work done on it. Fission Fragment Propulsion.…
Too bad it would require a whole brand new nuclear industry to produce the required Am 242 in usable amounts. I would guess something in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars to make that happen.

The most impractical concept is Zubrin’s nuclear salt water rocket. Very bad idea. Exactly what you would expect from someone who thinks Mars is someplace we should live.

Refuel on the Moon. Autos don’t refuel at 60 miles an hour. They stop and “land” at the gas station. Planes don’t refuel in the air except to prepare for war. They do it in airports. Boats do not refuel at sea, again, unless it is a warship. The take on their fuel in port.

You are the one that is stuck; mired in NewSpace dogma. Do you remember where the whole “depot miracle” began? It was with the falcon 9. The fanboys wanted the small cheap rocket to replace everything- and wrote libraries about how depots were going to do this. And they demonized SHLV’s. Until their cult leader started talking about falcon heavy, which was not really “heavy” but managed to redefine the term to less capability. I remember. You don’t.

Depots are not necessary. Not to go to the Moon. And going anywhere else requires nuclear energy. Not going to Mars without that. And by the time we have real spaceships we probably will pass on human missions to Mars and start with Ceres.

Very few technologies have been studied so long and so well. Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars directed energy weapon programs spent vast sums on shaping nuclear explosions. It is still all classified and directly relates to concentrating and projecting clouds of plasma. What do you want to do with that? They spent nobody knows how much money trying to knock down ICBM warheads and could not make that work- but they certainly know how to make a bomb do what they want. I know what I want that technology to do. There is enough bomb-grade material in storage around the world, not in bombs, just a security problem in storage, for about 200 missions to the outer solar system. The ocean moons of the gas and ice giants. And you can go with a small ship or an immense ship in the hundreds of thousands of tons- by adding a couple teaspoons of tritium to the pulse units. The reason NOT to go is that we cannot build ships anywhere near large enough to take advantage of that energy and it is a waste of fissile material. But there is always breeder reactors on the Moon as an option when we need more. The best reason of all; such spaceships, loaded with a couple thousand such devices each, can deflect any comet/asteroid impact threat to Earth. It is almost as if this propulsion system was designed to do that- instead of pushing a plate they are pushing ice or rock. This is of course not a NewSpace arena. Only governments are going to do this. Nobody is going to hand over nuclear devices to “entrepreneurs.” Likely why such derision and scorn is heaped upon the concept; Elon can’t do it.

If only it made sense to do this but it does not. Not on a scale that comes close to supporting human space flight. Super Heavy Lift Vehicles don’t need this. Unless it is like Starship, which is just a glorified Shuttle external tank and cargo bay with some engines and fins.

If I had to guess I would say it will be one of two ways: either in a small crater that has had a structure covered over with regolith, or in a lava tube. In space…far more difficult to store. Show me some cryo-coolers.

Nobody is going “deeper” in the solar system with chemical propulsion. You already downvoted my comment on that so I expect you are just trying to set me up for some mocking and naysaying.

A large pressurized facility shielded from radiation with some gravity. That is where you have a propellent farm. Also need that to maintain any kind of reusable lander. You could have a hangar bay on a space station also but under the lunar surface is way easier in every way.

Actually, in my opinion, it would be best to start with a big empty stage with a crew compartment in the center and fill it with water brought up from the Moon by robot landers. That way you have people in a place with no secondary radiation from heavy nuclei and completely protected against the worst possible solar event. And the things you can do with a couple thousand tons of water are a very long list. THEN…when you have another one you connect two of them together with a kilometer long tether system and spin them for one gravity. And have a mast sticking out from the center of that system for docking. A “true” space station. Reel in the tether system and bring the two of them together and dock a nuclear propulsion system of some kind and you have a “true” spaceship. Or you could possibly just let the two keep rotating and use some kind of low-thrust electrical propulsion system. I am not a fan of those though.

The third stage of Apollo lit off and sent the capsule/service module/lander on it’s way to the Moon without refueling. The service module lit off and placed the capsule/lander in lunar orbit without refueling. The lander landed and returned to lunar orbit without refueling. The service module lit off again and sent the capsule back to Earth without refueling.

The third stage of Apollo lit off and sent the capsule/service module/lander on it’s way to the Moon without refueling. The service module lit off and placed the capsule/lander in lunar orbit without refueling. The lander landed and returned to lunar orbit without refueling. The service module lit off again and sent the capsule back to Earth without refueling.

Propellent transfer was never anything but an undesirable way to get to the Moon because of a lack of a SHLV.
If you have a SHLV, you do not need, or want, to use propellent transfer.

SpaceX managed to make multiple SHLV launches necessary to do what only requires one.
And the gullible fanboys cheer!

No humans have ever flown past Luna and without nuclear energy likely ever will.

Well…the rocket equation and the gravity well we seek to escape makes the bic/zippo question quite hard to answer doesn’t it? That is what this is all about…how to do that.

I would like to think in a less neoliberal society with a common goal, like solving climate change for example, the most logical path would become clear. It seems like we could perfect our launch vehicle technology step by step. Sacrificing less and less on the altar of the rocket equation till we have something…”sustainable.”

We sustained the Shuttle at a billion dollars a mission for thirty years; about the same as the Saturn V, but trying to go cheap and making it “pay for itself” only trapped us in LEO and killed astronauts. We should have stuck with the Saturn V and the Moon and started with reusing the F-1’s and escape tower and parts of the capsule to start with, and year by year modifying the stages so more and more was brought back and reused. What would we have now?

We might still end up doing something similar…better late than never.

Get some people like climate change activists behind it and popularize it as a way to actually get nuclear weapons OFF the Earth and months away in deep space. We get another rock like Chelyabinsk that does some damage it might change everything. But one must be very careful wishing for something like that. I like nuclear reactors on the Moon and on Earth as long as necessary to make fissile material but not for commercial power. Anything for-profit inevitably degrades till corrected due to corruption and greed and that kind of roller coaster is unacceptable with nuclear energy. Just my opinion.

Not impossible that it could fly. Keep an open mind Vlad.

Published by billgamesh

Revivable Cryopreservation Advocate

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