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Thread: Could a private company explore nuclear space propulsion if governments don't want to

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    Could a private company explore nuclear space propulsion if governments don't want to

    A few years back, the Russians said they're looking into nuclear space propulsion for a Mars-shot, but nothing much seems to happening on that front. The US Gov doesn't even seem to consider it as an option. It's a shame, seeing as it seems to be the most efficient method available to us under current or near-future tech.

    So if a private company or corporation had the money and the will, would they be able to pursue nuclear space propulsion on their own initiative? If the US Gov isn't interested, would they at least let a private corp develop this kind of tech (under intense supervision)? I realize it's extremely difficult to get Uranium/Plutonium, but would a major, established corporation (like Boeing or Raytheon) meet any roadblocks in procuring it?

    Or if the US Gov said no, could the corporation go to a country like Brazil and develop the program there?. Brazil uses nuclear energy and has an infant space program. I think they'd want to be on the forefront of something like this if someone else carried the financial burden.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    I think there is a prohibiting factor from the cold war that outlaws Nuclear technologies in this way. If it is true it would need to be changed to proceed if they wish to pursue it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Massachusetts, USA
    Quote Originally Posted by mapreader View Post
    ... The US Gov doesn't even seem to consider it as an option. ...
    This thread about NASA going Nuclear seems to disagree with your premise here.
    Forming opinions as we speak

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Bump. Possibly there is a country where the government would encourage, rather than discourage nuclear space propulsion. If the process was reasonably safe, other countries might not interfere.
    To be reasonably sure of minimum interference, It would be necessary to move the operation to an asteroid that will not come close to Earth, where you dug nuclear ore, refined nuclear fuel, do experiments and testing, with near zero risk to Earth. An investment of a billion dollars the first year that doubled annually for 20 years might produce some workable nuclear vehicles. Vastly superior to present vehicles would take lots more money before a profit was likely, so no, it probably won't happen, but it is possible. The economics likely will not be better starting in 2020 unless the NASA program (or someone else) produces some big break thoughs. Neil
    Last edited by neilzero; 2013-Jun-19 at 03:44 PM. Reason: Added last sentence

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