The US military is getting serious about nuclear thermal propulsion


Supreme [H]ardness
Dec 19, 2005
Opinion? Might be pretty cool!

"DARPA's decision to push forward with development of nuclear thermal propulsion comes as critical enabling technologies are maturing, said Jonathan Cirtain, president of advanced programs at BWX Technologies. Cirtain's company, which makes most of the nuclear reactors found on US Navy submarines and aircraft carriers, is working with NASA on the design of a reactor to enable Mars missions.

One advancement has come in the ability to manufacture refractory metals, which are extraordinarily resistant to heating. To operate efficiently, Cirtain said, an engine must be able to withstand huge temperature and pressure changes across just two meters in length. Hydrogen fuel is stored at just 19 Kelvin and heated to 2,500 Kelvin or higher."