The following post was submitted by Axil Axil
The nuclear rocket is such an attractive concept for space exploration that the space fairing nations of the world have repeatedly experimented with this concept for the last 50 years in an attempt to perfect this idea. Even with the great dangers and disadvantages in this approach involving radioactive contamination of vast swaths of their countries, its promise is overwhelming to the rocket engineers, if not the population under the fall of radioactive debris resulting from a launch failure.
Nuclear thermal rocket
As a thermal rocket that heats liquid hydrogen to 1400C, a nuclear rocket’s specific impulse is equal to that of the space shuttle. The specific impulse is a measure that can be thought of as thrust divided by propellant mass per unit time. If the temperature of the hydrogen exhaust gas can be raised between 2000C and 3000C degrees, its spacific impulse would be great enough to lift 10 to 20 times the payload of the space shuttle into orbit using the same size vehicle. Truly, if a safe source of refactory level heat can be found to heat hydrogen gas to incandescence, or even just beyond 1000C, the door to the exploitation and commercialization of the solar system would be thrown wide opened to space based exploration and utilization.
Now, with the advent of the Hot Cat, a way to heat hydrogen rocket exhaust gas could now provide a safe and effective way to lift massive amounts of payload into orbit at a greatly reduced cost. The LENR boost vehicle could do more for space exploration than the Space Elevator could ever do and it would be a lot less expensive.
The design goal of such a LENR booster is to produce 4 gigawatts of heat for 170 seconds. How could this be done? Well let’s figure out a way to get many Hot cat alumina reactors to mealt down at a controlled and sustained rate.
Let’s feed Hot Cat inches long reactor rods of alumina into a chamber of heat and EMF excitation to melt down like a steam engine burns coal. A bin full of Hot Cat rods can be fed from a hopper into an Hot Cat ignition chamber where other Hot Cats are in various stages of melt down mixed with liquid hydrogen. A Cat and mouse process would keep the Hot Cat chamber at 3000C for the 20 seconds that it takes each Hot cat tube to disintegrate. The bottom of the Hot Cat tube pile would be the hottest the the top of the pile just starting the burnup process. A screen of refactory material at the end of the ignition chamber would allow Hot Cat fragments comprised of ruby dust and the vapor of nickel powder to be expelled out of the reaction nozzle along with the heated hydrogen. This should allow the Hot Cat booster to achieve orbit in a single stage. But I am sure that once all you who want to explore and utilize space put your minds to this task, you all can come up with a far more elegant solution to LENR booster technology.