Beyond NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application)

NASA’s NERVA was just the beginning…

Using a nuclear reactor to heat a working fluid is a concept as old as nuclear science. Pushing that fluid through a nozzle to provide thrust was an insight realized by the US Air Force as early as 1946. This website delves deeply into all things nuclear thermal – and is a worthy read for anyone wanting to come up to speed on the state of the art, as well as those who just want to understand the complex history of nuclear thermal rocketry.

Nuclear Thermal Propulsion as “Game Changing Development” at NASA

NASA recognizes NTP’s value for space exploration

A useful link for readers who want to know the current state of play at NASA. Investigations into nuclear fuel forms, standup of test facilities at locations like Marshall Space Flight Center and Stennis Space Center, and developing mission applications such as the “development and use of cislunar space,” are all part and parcel of the current program underway.

Can Nuclear Thermal Engines Help Open the Solar System?

“New Space” is driving resurgent interest in nuclear thermal rockets

The author briefly discusses the basic physics underpinning the enabling features of nuclear thermal propulsion, and then goes on to describe NASA and US Air Force efforts to put NTRs on orbit in the 1960s and later in the 1980s and 90s. Now, all three space sectors (commercial, civil, and defense) are pressing to develop a nuclear thermal rocket within the next few years. The momentum is palpable – can we sustain it?

“Nuclear Propulsion for Space” by William R. Corliss and Francis C. Schwenk

An early but very entertaining primer on nuclear thermal rocketry

This Atomic Energy Commission pamphlet – from 1971 – is a wonderful introduction to the science of nuclear rocketry. Its final and prophetic comment: “…the real significance of the nuclear rocket lies in the fact that it represents a true advance in our overall propulsion capability; perhaps as big a jump as the first automobiles were over the horse . We can only surmise where such an advance in propulsion capability eventually
will take us…”
We plan to make this capability a reality. With your help.