Nuclear propulsion includes a wide variety of propulsion methods that fulfill the promise of the Atomic Age by using some form of nuclear reaction as their primary power source. The idea of using nuclear material for propulsion dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1903 it was hypothesised that radioactive material, radium, might be a suitable fuel for engines to propel cars, boats, and planes. H. G. Wells picked up this idea in his 1914 fiction work The World Set Free.
Nuclear-powered vessels are mainly military submarines, and aircraft carriers. Russia and America are the only countries that currently have nuclear-powered civilian surface ships, including icebreakers and Aircraft carriers. America currently (as of July 2018) has 11 Aircraft carriers in service, and all are powered by nuclear reactors. They use nuclear reactors as their power plants. For more detailed articles see:
Russia's Channel One Television news broadcast a picture and details of a nuclear-powered torpedo called Status-6 on about 12 November 2015. The torpedo was stated as having a range of up to 10,000 km, a cruising speed of 100 knots, and operational depth of up to 1000 metres below the surface. The torpedo carried a 100-megaton nuclear warhead.
One of the suggestions emerging in the summer of 1958 from the first meeting of the scientific advisory group that became JASON was for "a nuclear-powered torpedo that could roam the seas almost indefinitely".
Research into nuclear-powered aircraft was pursued during the Cold War by the United States and the Soviet Union as they would presumably allow a country to keep nuclear bombers in the air for extremely long periods of time, a useful tactic for nuclear deterrence. Neither country created any operational nuclear aircraft. One design problem, never adequately solved, was the need for heavy shielding to protect the crew from radiation sickness. Since the advent of ICBMs in the 1960s the tactical advantage of such aircraft was greatly diminished and respective projects were cancelled. Because the technology was inherently dangerous it was not considered in non-military contexts. Nuclear-powered missiles were also researched and discounted during the same period.
Many types of nuclear propulsion have been proposed, and some of them (e.g. NERVA) tested for spacecraft applications.
Anatolij Perminov, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, announced that it is going to develop a nuclear-powered spacecraft for deep space travel. Preliminary design was done by 2013, and 9 more years are planned for development (in space assembly). The price is set at 17 billion rubles (600 million dollars). The nuclear propulsion would have mega-watt class, provided necessary funding, Roscosmos Head stated.
This system would consist of a space nuclear power and a matrix of ion engines. "...Hot inert gas temperature of 1500 °C from the reactor turns turbines. The turbine turns the generator and compressor, which circulates the working fluid in a closed circuit. The working fluid is cooled in the radiator. The generator produces electricity for the same ion (plasma) engine..." 
According to him, the propulsion will be able to support human mission to Mars, with cosmonauts staying on the Red planet for 30 days. This journey to Mars with nuclear propulsion and a steady acceleration would take six weeks, instead of eight months by using chemical propulsion – assuming thrust of 300 times higher than that of chemical propulsion.
The idea of making cars that used radioactive material, radium, for fuel dates back to at least 1903. Analysis of the concept in 1937 indicated that the driver of such a vehicle might need a 50-ton lead barrier to shield them from radiation.
In 1941 Dr R M Langer, a Caltech physicist, espoused the idea of a car powered by uranium-235 in the January edition of Popular Mechanics. He was followed by William Bushnell Stout, designer of the Stout Scarab and former Society of Engineers president, on 7 August 1945 in the New York Times. The problem of shielding the reactor continued to render the idea impractical. In December 1945, a John Wilson of London, announced he had created an atomic car. This created considerable interest. The Minister of Fuel and Power along with a large press contingent turned out to view it. The car did not show and Wilson claimed that it had been sabotaged. A later court case found that he was a fraud and there was no nuclear-powered car.
Despite the shielding problem, through the late 1940s and early 1950s debate continued around the possibility of nuclear-powered cars. The development of nuclear-powered submarines and ships, and experiments to develop a nuclear-powered aircraft at that time kept the idea alive. Russian papers in the mid-1950s reported the development of a nuclear-powered car by Professor V P Romadin, but again shielding proved to be a problem. It was claimed that its laboratories had overcome the shielding problem with a new alloy that absorbed the rays.
In 1958 at the height of the 1950s American automobile culture there were at least four theoretical nuclear-powered concept cars proposed, the American Ford Nucleon and Studebaker Packard Astral, as well as the French Simca Fulgur designed by Robert Opron and the Arbel Symétric. Apart from these concept models, none were built and no automotive nuclear power plants ever made. Chrysler engineer C R Lewis had discounted the idea in 1957 because of estimates that an 80,000 lb (36,000 kg) engine would be required by a 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) car. His view was that an efficient means of storing energy was required for nuclear power to be practical. Despite this, Chrysler's stylists in 1958 drew up some possible designs.
In 1959 it was reported that Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company had developed a new rubber compound that was light and absorbed radiation, obviating the need for heavy shielding. A reporter at the time considered it might make nuclear-powered cars and aircraft a possibility.
The Chrysler TV-8 was an experimental concept tank designed by Chrysler in the 1950s. The tank was intended to be a nuclear-powered medium tank capable of land and amphibious warfare. The design was never mass-produced. The Mars rover Curiosity is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), like the successful Viking 1 and Viking 2 Mars landers in 1976.
The 9M730 Burevestnik (Russian: Буревестник; "Petrel", NATO reporting name: SSC-X-9 Skyfall) is a Russian nuclear-powered, nuclear-tipped cruise missile with virtually unlimited range.The Burevestnik is one of the six new Russian strategic weapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 1 March 2018.Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion
The Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) program and the preceding Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) project worked to develop a nuclear propulsion system for aircraft. The United States Army Air Forces initiated Project NEPA on May 28, 1946. After funding of $10 million in 1947, NEPA operated until May 1951, when the project was transferred to the joint Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)/USAF ANP. The USAF pursued two different systems for nuclear-powered jet engines, the Direct Air Cycle concept, which was developed by General Electric, and Indirect Air Cycle, which was assigned to Pratt & Whitney. The program was intended to develop and test the Convair X-6, but was cancelled in 1961 before that aircraft was built.Convair NB-36H
The Convair NB-36H was an experimental aircraft that carried a nuclear reactor. It was also known as the "Crusader". It was created for the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program, or the ANP, to show the feasibility of a nuclear-powered bomber. Its development ended with the cancellation of the ANP program.Ford Nucleon
The Ford Nucleon is a concept car developed by Ford in 1957 designed as a future nuclear-powered car, one of a handful of such designs during the 1950s and '60s. The concept was only demonstrated as a scale model. The design did not include an internal-combustion engine; rather, the vehicle was to be powered by a small nuclear reactor in the rear of the vehicle, based on the assumption that this would one day be possible by reducing sizes. The car was to use a steam engine powered by uranium fission similar to those found in nuclear submarines.The mock-up of the car can be viewed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.Ford Seattle-ite XXI
The Ford Seattle-ite XXI was a 3/8 scale concept car designed by Alex Tremulis and displayed on 20 April 1962 on the Ford stand at the Seattle World's Fair.John L. Sullivan (United States Navy)
John Lawrence Sullivan (June 16, 1899 – August 8, 1982) was Assistant Secretary of the Navy (AIR) 1946-47 and the first Department of Defense Secretary of the Navy in the Truman Administration 1947-49. He was appointed to that position upon Secretary Forrestal's installation as the first Secretary of Defense. He resigned in protest after the second Secretary of Defense, Louis A. Johnson, canceled the heavy aircraft carrier United States. This event was part of an interservice conflict known as the Revolt of the Admirals.
Sullivan's major contributions to the Navy's future directions include the advent of naval nuclear propulsion. In 1947, then-Captain Hyman G. Rickover went around his chain-of-command and directly to the Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, by chance also a former submariner, to pitch his ideas for creating a nuclear-powered warship. Nimitz immediately understood the potential of nuclear propulsion and recommended the project to Sullivan, whose endorsement to build the world's first nuclear-powered vessel, USS Nautilus (SSN-571), later caused Rickover to state that Sullivan was "the true father of the Nuclear Navy."John M. Richardson (admiral)
John Michael Richardson (born April 8, 1960) is a four-star admiral in the United States Navy who currently serves as the 31st Chief of Naval Operations. He previously served as the Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program from November 2, 2012 to August 14, 2015. While serving as Director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion (itself a joint Department of Energy and Department of Navy organization), Richardson was responsible for the command and safe, reliable operation of the United States Navy's nuclear propulsion program and for all the current United States naval reactors deployed for usage as well as all facilities needed to ensure safe operations. On May 13, 2015, United States Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, announced Richardson's nomination to succeed Admiral Jonathan Greenert as Chief of Naval Operations.
Richardson began serving as the 31st Chief of Naval Operations on September 18, 2015.List of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy
Aircraft carriers are warships that act as airbases for carrier-based aircraft. In the United States Navy, these consist of ships commissioned with hull classification symbols CV (aircraft carrier), CVA (attack aircraft carrier), CVB (large aircraft carrier), CVL (light aircraft carrier), CVN (aircraft carrier (nuclear propulsion)) and CVAN (attack aircraft carrier (nuclear propulsion)). Beginning with the Forrestal-class, (CV-59 to present) all carriers commissioned into service are classified as supercarriers. The United States Navy has also used escort aircraft carriers and airship aircraft carriers. This list does not include various amphibious warfare ships which can operate as carriers.
The first aircraft carrier commissioned into the United States Navy was USS Langley (CV-1) on 20 March 1922. The Langley was a converted Proteus-class collier (originally commissioned as USS Jupiter (AC-3), Langley was soon followed by the Lexington-class, USS Ranger (the first purpose-built carriers in the American fleet), the Yorktown-class, and USS Wasp. These classes made up the entirety of the United States carrier fleet active prior to the Second World War.With World War II looming, two more classes of carriers were commissioned under President Franklin Roosevelt: the Essex-class, which are informally divided into regular bow and extended bow sub-classes, and the Independence-class, which are classified as light aircraft carriers. Between these two classes, 35 ships were created. During this time, the Navy also purchased two training vessels, USS Wolverine and USS Sable.The Cold War led to multiple developments in the United States' carrier fleet, starting with the addition of the Midway-class and the Saipan-class. One more class in the start of the Cold War, the United States-class, was canceled due to the Truman administration's policy of shrinking the United States Navy and in particular, the Navy's air assets. The policy was eventually revised after a public outcry and Congressional hearings sparked by the Revolt of the Admirals.Later in the Cold War era, the first of the classes dubbed "supercarriers" was born, starting with USS Forrestal (CV-59), followed by the Kitty Hawk-class and single ships Enterprise (CVN-65), the first nuclear powered carrier and John F. Kennedy (CV-67), the last conventionally powered carrier. These were then followed by the Nimitz-class and the post-cold war Gerald R. Ford-class nuclear supercarriers, the only classes that are currently in active-duty service. The ten-ship Nimitz-class is complete, while USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the lead ship of her planned ten-ship class, is the only ship active so far, with construction started on two more ships, John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) and Enterprise (CVN-80).National Nuclear Security Administration
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is a United States federal agency responsible for safeguarding national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear explosive testing; works to reduce the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the United States Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.
Established by the United States Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the United States Department of Energy. It is led by Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, who was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 16, 2018.Naval Reactors
Naval Reactors (NR) is an umbrella term for the U.S. government office that has comprehensive responsibility for safe and reliable operation of the United States Navy's nuclear propulsion program. A single entity, it has authority and reporting responsibilities within both the United States Department of the Navy (Chief of Naval Operations and the Naval Sea Systems Command, NAVSEA), and the United States Department of Energy (National Nuclear Security Administration).Program responsibilities are delineated in Presidential Executive Order 12344 of February 1, 1982, and prescribed by Public Laws 98-525 of October 19, 1984 (42 USC 7158), and 106-65 of October 5, 1999 (50 USC 2406).Nuclear-powered aircraft
A nuclear-powered aircraft is a concept for an aircraft intended to be powered by nuclear energy. The intention was to produce a jet engine that would heat compressed air with heat from fission, instead of heat from burning fuel. During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union researched nuclear-powered bomber aircraft, the greater endurance of which could enhance nuclear deterrence, but neither country created any such operational aircraft.One inadequately solved design problem was the need for heavy shielding to protect the crew and those on the ground from acute radiation syndrome; other potential problems included dealing with crashes.
Some unmanned missile designs included nuclear powered supersonic cruise missiles.
However, the advent of ICBMs, and nuclear submarines in the 1960s greatly diminished the strategic advantage of such aircraft, and respective projects were cancelled; the inherent danger of the technology has prevented its civilian use.Nuclear marine propulsion
Nuclear marine propulsion is propulsion of a ship or submarine with heat provided by a nuclear power plant. The power plant heats water to produce steam for a turbine used to turn the ship's propeller through a gearbox or through an electric generator and motor. Naval nuclear propulsion is used specifically within naval warships such as supercarriers (see nuclear navy). A small number of experimental civil nuclear ships have been built.Compared to oil or coal fuelled ships, nuclear propulsion offers the advantages of very long intervals of operation before refueling. All the fuel is contained within the nuclear reactor, so no cargo or supplies space is taken up by fuel, nor is space taken up by exhaust stacks or combustion air intakes. However, the low fuel cost is offset by the high operating costs and investment in infrastructure, so nearly all nuclear-powered vessels are military ones.Project Orion
Project Orion may refer to:
Project Orion (nuclear propulsion), a study for a nuclear-powered spacecraft
Orion (laser), built in the UK to research thermonuclear explosions
Orion (spacecraft), a project to replace the US Space ShuttleProject Orion (nuclear propulsion)
Project Orion was a study of a spacecraft intended to be directly propelled by a series of explosions of atomic bombs behind the craft (nuclear pulse propulsion). Early versions of this vehicle were proposed to take off from the ground with significant associated nuclear fallout; later versions were presented for use only in space. Six tests were launched.
The idea of rocket propulsion by combustion of explosive substance was first proposed by Russian explosives expert Nikolai Kibalchich in 1881, and in 1891 similar ideas were developed independently by German engineer Hermann Ganswindt. General proposals of nuclear propulsion were first made by Stanislaw Ulam in 1946, and preliminary calculations were made by F. Reines and Ulam in a Los Alamos memorandum dated 1947. The actual project, initiated in 1958, was led by Ted Taylor at General Atomics and physicist Freeman Dyson, who at Taylor's request took a year away from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton to work on the project.
The Orion concept offered high thrust and high specific impulse, or propellant efficiency, at the same time. The unprecedented extreme power requirements for doing so would be met by nuclear explosions, of such power relative to the vehicle's mass as to be survived only by using external detonations without attempting to contain them in internal structures. As a qualitative comparison, traditional chemical rockets—such as the Saturn V that took the Apollo program to the Moon—produce high thrust with low specific impulse, whereas electric ion engines produce a small amount of thrust very efficiently. Orion would have offered performance greater than the most advanced conventional or nuclear rocket engines then under consideration. Supporters of Project Orion felt that it had potential for cheap interplanetary travel, but it lost political approval over concerns with fallout from its propulsion.The Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 is generally acknowledged to have ended the project. However, from Project Longshot to Project Daedalus, Mini-Mag Orion, and other proposals which reach engineering analysis at the level of considering thermal power dissipation, the principle of external nuclear pulse propulsion to maximize survivable power has remained common among serious concepts for interstellar flight without external power beaming and for very high-performance interplanetary flight. Such later proposals have tended to modify the basic principle by envisioning equipment driving detonation of much smaller fission or fusion pellets, although in contrast Project Orion's larger nuclear pulse units (nuclear bombs) were based on less speculative technology.
To Mars by A-Bomb: The Secret History of Project Orion was a 2003 BBC documentary film about the project.Project Pluto
Project Pluto was a United States government program to develop nuclear-powered ramjet engines for use in cruise missiles. Two experimental engines were tested at the United States Department of Energy Nevada Test Site (NTS) in 1961 and 1964.Project Rover
Project Rover was an American project to develop a nuclear thermal rocket. The program ran at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory from 1955 through 1972 and involved the Atomic Energy Commission, and NASA. The project was managed by the Space Nuclear Propulsion Office.Nuclear reactors for the Rover program were built at the Lab's Technical Area 18 (TA-18), also known as Pajarito Site. The reactors were tested at very low power and subsequently shipped to Jackass Flats at the Nevada Test Site. Testing of fuel elements and other materials science was done by N-Division in Los Alamos at TA-46 using various ovens and later the Nuclear Furnace. Parallel fuel rod development took place off-site at Rocky Flats.
Project Rover could be divided into three phases: Kiwi, between 1955 and 1964, Phoebus, taking place between 1964 and 1969, and Pewee, taking place between 1969 and the project's cancellation along with the cancellation of the NERVA rocket at the end of 1972. Kiwi and Phoebus were large reactors; Pewee 1 and Pewee 2 were much smaller and they conformed to the smaller budget available after 1968. Both Kiwi and Phoebus became part of the NERVA program.Space Nuclear Propulsion Office
The United States Space Nuclear Propulsion Office (SNPO) was created in 1961 in response to NASA Marshall Space Flight Center's desire to explore the use of nuclear thermal rockets created by Project Rover in NASA space exploration activities. Because Project Rover fell under the aegis of the Atomic Energy Commission, a way had to be found for NASA and the AEC to share a large, expensive, classified program; specifically, Los Alamos was developing technology for NASA to use.
A "Program Office" was created in Washington, D.C. under the Executive branch of the U.S. Government. The Director of SNPO was H. B. Finger, known as Harry Finger, an executive branch employee. The Deputy Director of SNPO was Milton Klein, an AEC employee. The rest of the SNPO staff, approximately twenty people, was a combination of NASA and AEC employees. Their responsibilities included "program and resource planning and evaluation, the justification and distribution of program resources, the definition and control of overall program requirements, monitoring and reporting of progress and problems to NASA and AEC management, and the preparation of testimony to Congress.SNPO was specifically tasked with creating the NERVA nuclear thermal rocket program, and immediately upon SNPO's formation it chose Aerojet and Westinghouse as NERVA's principal contractors. SNPO also chose contractors to build reactor and fuel test facilities. SNPO directed NASA funding to non-nuclear components, "engine system development, and design and construction of engine test facilities".There were three SNPO Field Offices as well. The Cleveland extension (SNPO-C), located at NASA Lewis Research Center was responsible for the management of NERVA Engine Technology Development, including the activities of industrial contractors and the construction of the new NERVA test facilities at the Nevada Test Site. The Nevada Extension (SNPO-N) managed the test site activities. The Albuquerque Extension (SNPO-A) provided liaison with LASL, which was developing the Kiwi and Phoebus reactor research programs. Los Alamos worked on reactors with progressively higher temperatures, power density and power, along with the non-trivial problem of fuel corrosion. SNPO also had the authority to choose the technical direction for KIWI and Phoebus development at LASL.
Finger left SNPO in early 1969 to become NASA's Associate Administrator for Organization and Management. He was replaced by Milton Klein. The Space Nuclear Propulsion Office came to an end when the Nixon Administration ended the NERVA program in 1972.TEM (nuclear propulsion)
TEM (Russian: Транспортно-энергетический модуль, "transport and energy unit", NPPS in English) is a nuclear propulsion spacecraft project between the Russian Keldysh Research Center, NIKIET (Research and Design Institute of Power Engineering) institute and Rosatom.UGM-89 Perseus
The UGM-89 Perseus was a proposed U.S. Navy submarine-launched anti-ship (AShM) and anti-submarine (ASW) cruise missile that was developed under the Submarine Tactical Missile (STAM) project, which was also referred to as the Submarine Anti-ship Weapon System (STAWS). This missile system was to be the centerpiece for a proposed third-generation nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine championed by then-Vice Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the influential but controversial head of the Navy's nuclear propulsion program.