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For example, the Rocketdyne F-1, the engine that powered the Saturn V, generated energy from the oxidation of kerosene and liquid oxygen. For chemical rocket engines such as this one, the energy is stored in the propellants themselves. In contrast, the nuclear thermal engine generates heat from a nuclear fission reaction, commonly of U This heat in turn triggers the superheating and thermodynamic expansion of a separate propellant such as liquid hydrogen.

The most significant advantage of nuclear thermal propulsion is that nuclear reactions generate considerably more energy than chemical reactions on a per molecule basis. This translates to a higher specific impulse Isp , which is essentially a measure of the efficiency of rocket engine.

The specific impulses for chemical propulsion commonly ranges from seconds whereas the specific impulses for nuclear thermal engines range from seconds. In fact, a nuclear engine cannot generate enough thrust to overcome the Earth's gravity at launch, at least given existing technology. Therefore, from a performance perspective, chemical engines are necessary for escaping the Earth's atmosphere, but nuclear engines are optimal once a space vehicle is in low earth orbit.

The ramifications of nuclear thermal engines are considerable. Additionally, the higher fuel efficiency by weight gives much more flexibility to any potential Mars missions, including the ability to launch during a broader ranch of times.

Finally, the efficiency gains also could reduce mission cost significantly. To protect your privacy and security, we will take reasonable steps to help verify your identity before granting access or making corrections. We will decline to process requests where we cannot verify the identity of the requester.

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  4. Nuclear rockets: High-performance propulsion for Mars|INIS.

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    Nuclear Propulsion for Space Transit to Mars

    Orlando Avenue, Suite Winter Park, FL You may also ask for a summary of the information that we have retained, how we have used it, and to whom it has been disclosed. Off World. Capable of record-breaking speeds and highly efficient, the X3 Hall thruster is our best bet yet for a trip to the red planet. Brad Jones October 13th Click to View Full Infographic. Keep up.

    NASA Will Flight Test a Nuclear Rocket by 2024 and Other High Tech NASA Projects

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