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Sun Apr 3, 2016, 01:51 PM

1.5 Years to Mars? Russia Could Do It in 1.5 Months

Source: Motley Fool

In a recent address to the Federation Council (Russia's Senate), former Prime Minister-turned-nuke-exec Kirienko proposed an ambitious project to cut the time needed to travel to Mars by 92%. For some years, Rosatom has been working on the development of a megawatt-class "thermonuclear battery" for use in powering spaceships. Declared the former PM: "Installing a nuclear engine will allow [a spacecraft] to fly to Mars in a month and a half and to come back."

What's more, the spacecraft could make course changes en route if necessary, and even turn around and fly back to Earth, because with nuclear power, "the spacecraft would retain the ability to maneuver."

...

Last year, we learned that privately held space contractor Ad Astra is developing a prototype nuclear engine for NASA. Like Rosatom's invention, the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, or VASIMR, would use a nuclear reactor to heat and ionize propellant, then emit it through electromagnetic thrusters to propel a spaceship between planets. And although the technology sounds similar, Ad Astra believes its VASIMR engine will take a spaceship from Earth to Mars in just 39 days -- faster than Russia's rocket.

Nuclear research lab MNSW is looking into even farther-out options -- everything from nuclear fusion reactors to "plasmoid thrusters" and "electrodeless Lorentz force" (ELF) engines. And other NASA researchers continue to explore the ionic "EM Drive" concept, converting electricity directly to impulse power, potentially cutting travel time to Mars down to just 10 weeks.

Read more: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/04/03/15-years-to-mars-russia-could-do-it-in-15-months.aspx?source=yahoo-2&utm_campaign=article&utm_medium=feed&utm_source=yahoo-2



Interesting science here.

43 replies, 4632 views

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Arrow 43 replies Author Time Post
Reply 1.5 Years to Mars? Russia Could Do It in 1.5 Months (Original post)
Calista241 Apr 2016 OP
forest444 Apr 2016 #1
Babel_17 Apr 2016 #3
forest444 Apr 2016 #21
longship Apr 2016 #2
n2doc Apr 2016 #4
Volaris Apr 2016 #5
n2doc Apr 2016 #13
Volaris Apr 2016 #18
24601 Apr 2016 #39
uhnope Apr 2016 #30
LongTomH Apr 2016 #14
Gregorian Apr 2016 #20
PeoViejo Apr 2016 #6
Sancho Apr 2016 #7
NobodyHere Apr 2016 #8
FailureToCommunicate Apr 2016 #10
Calista241 Apr 2016 #17
roamer65 Apr 2016 #24
bananas Apr 2016 #22
daleo Apr 2016 #26
Person 2713 Apr 2016 #37
Bayard Apr 2016 #9
awoke_in_2003 Apr 2016 #34
mac56 Apr 2016 #11
tclambert Apr 2016 #27
uhnope Apr 2016 #31
burfman Apr 2016 #12
LunaSea Apr 2016 #28
burfman Apr 2016 #41
NonMetro Apr 2016 #15
keithbvadu2 Apr 2016 #25
Victor_c3 Apr 2016 #16
freebrew Apr 2016 #19
uhnope Apr 2016 #32
freebrew Apr 2016 #42
roamer65 Apr 2016 #23
Sunlei Apr 2016 #29
LeftyMom Apr 2016 #33
olddad56 Apr 2016 #35
dembotoz Apr 2016 #36
DavidDvorkin Apr 2016 #38
whistler162 Apr 2016 #40
sofa king Apr 2016 #43

Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 01:56 PM

1. Maybe so.

But I doubt our off-world friends would allow humanity to do so (and who could blame them).

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Response to forest444 (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 02:08 PM

3. I thought all the Solar system was ours,

except Europa?

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Response to Babel_17 (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 05:48 PM

21. But then Dubya happened.

Who knows: that may have been actually been the case when Arthur Clarke wrote that (in 1983).

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 01:59 PM

2. Ad Astra is a very cool outfit.

Note: these propulsion advances are not sufficient to put things into orbit. We'll still need chemical rockets for that. The advantage of nuclear propulsion is that they are extremely efficient. The engine is going all the time, just like in the book, "The Martian".

But the thrust is low on these, so they cannot be used for blasting off Earth.

R&K


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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 02:12 PM

4. All great until they suffer a catastrophic launch failure

Then it is a unguided dirty bomb.

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Response to n2doc (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 02:37 PM

5. If you put that engine in space and leave it there

And just keep docking new spacecraft/mission platforms to it,
You only need to run that risk once.
I trust NASA not to be overly incompetent with stuff like that.=)

I understand however, if you don't.

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Response to Volaris (Reply #5)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 03:21 PM

13. We are talking about Russia, not NASA

And if you haven't noticed, there have been a few launch failures over time.

I'm not saying that we should not consider it, I would just say that alternatives should be considered as well. Space flight remains a very understudied area.

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Response to n2doc (Reply #13)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 03:37 PM

18. In that case I agree with you I would rather not do it, either

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Response to n2doc (Reply #13)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 06:25 PM

39. Russia also has some successes we just don't talk about very much. Starting as the Soviet Union,

they have more launches with just the SL-4 booster than we have in our entire space program.

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Response to Volaris (Reply #5)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 10:31 PM

30. NASA's two exploding shuttles & Russia being Russia makes me trust neither

 

to fly a gigantic dirty bomb into the earth's atmosphere

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Response to n2doc (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 03:25 PM

14. The VASIMR engine doesn't really need a nuclear reactor.

The article was incorrect, as is much 'popular science' journalism these days.

The Ad Astra page for VASIMR lists both solar and nuclear power as energy sources for the VASIMR engine.

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Response to LongTomH (Reply #14)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 05:43 PM

20. It's like a supercharged microwave oven.

Thanks for posting that. I was very curious about the internal works.

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 02:44 PM

6. Welcome to New Austrailia, Penal Colony for Earth.

 

Inmates that die on the way, will be used as fuel.

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 02:48 PM

7. With Zefram Cochrane as the lead engineer, Mars is only a day away!

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 02:52 PM

8. Doesn't it take only 6 months right now with current technology?

 

Where does the 1.5 years come from?

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Response to NobodyHere (Reply #8)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 02:56 PM

10. The scenic route?

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Response to NobodyHere (Reply #8)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 03:33 PM

17. It changes based on each planets orbit around the sun.

Mars takes 687 days to orbit the sun, while Earth takes only 365. Mars and Earth's distance from each other varies drastically based on their orbits.

The closest that Earth and Mars would approach each other would be when Mars is at its closest point to the sun (perihelion) and Earth is at its farthest (aphelion). This would put the planets only 54.6 million kilometers apart. When the opposite occurs, with Mars at its aphelion and Earth at its perihelion, they are about 401 million kilometers apart.

This distance variable is constantly changing, and the closest and furthest distances only happen on indescribably rare occasions. For the most part, Mars and Earth are separated by an average distance of 200 - 250 million kilometers

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Response to Calista241 (Reply #17)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 06:31 PM

24. Venus will make a good gravitational "slingshot" for the longer trips. N/t

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Response to NobodyHere (Reply #8)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 05:55 PM

22. SpaceX will get to Mars in 3 months with chemical rockets.

6 months is a minimum energy trajectory,
Musk wants the rockets to go to Mars and back in 6 months,
3 months each way.

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Response to NobodyHere (Reply #8)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 07:32 PM

26. Maybe there and back

via minimum energy Hohmann Transfer orbits.

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Response to NobodyHere (Reply #8)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 04:41 PM

37. I was just at NASA in October.I believe the way they termed it on our tour was less than 2 years

So the 1.5 yr. right now seems more in line vs 6 months

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 02:55 PM

9. SOOO Exciting!

With Impulse power, Warp 8 can't be far behind, Scotty!

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Response to Bayard (Reply #9)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 11:49 PM

34. But this starship goes to 11. nt

 

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 03:00 PM

11. Sounds like Trump.

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Response to mac56 (Reply #11)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 08:08 PM

27. And the Martians will pay for it!

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Response to mac56 (Reply #11)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 10:34 PM

31. Remember, Trump & Russia have a mutual admiration society going on

 

that's the first thing I thought too--sounds like Trump-level fantasy boasting

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 03:06 PM

12. Better method - recycle nuclear weapons to run around the solar system

Heard a lecture at NASA back sometime around 1980 by Dr. Dyson talking about project Orion. Back in the 1960's there was a seriously looked into idea - government funded - to use the blast from small atomic bombs - lots of them - to jet around the entire solar system in a big space ship - think really big - maybe ship size and fast too.. There used to be a prototype they built using TNT to demonstrate the concept in the Air and Space museum - I don't know if it's still there. The nuclear test ban treaty with the USSR (Russia) put an end to the idea.

But it would have been awesome.....people could have visited some of the planets some time in the 1970's instead of thinking of Mars a decade or two from now.

And a much better use for all those nasty bombs that we and Russia have.

Burfman.............


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)



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Response to burfman (Reply #12)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 08:17 PM

28. More on Orion

Short vid-


Full doc-

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Response to LunaSea (Reply #28)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 10:29 PM

41. Love that video of the TNT powered rocket!

Thanks!

Didn't know about those videos.

Burfman.....

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 03:29 PM

15. Gee. At that Rate It Would Only Take 13,000 Years To Reach The Nearest Star!

Of course, there is nothing at the nearest star, and it would probably only take another 13,000 years to reach the next one. But since I'm not doing much else right now, sign me up. See ya in 52,000 years! Be back in another two or three ice ages!

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Response to NonMetro (Reply #15)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 07:02 PM

25. You might be coming back to the Eloi and Morlocks.

Pick a side, quick!

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 03:32 PM

16. Science and a space race - such a better investment than a bloated military

Those are the things we should be having parades and national holidays for, not Memorial Day and Veterans Day. When I look back at our history and think of what I'm most proud of, I have to say going to the moon. Does it make our lives better on our planet? Doubtful, but it's so much better for all of us than any war we've wasted countless lives and dollars on over the last several decades.

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 03:44 PM

19. One thing for sure...

if NASA does it, it will cost a WHOLE lot more than the Russian model.

I mean, private enterprise has to profit, right?

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Response to freebrew (Reply #19)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 10:36 PM

32. did you forget that Russia is now a kleptocratic capitalist system?

 

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Response to uhnope (Reply #32)

Tue Apr 5, 2016, 07:43 AM

42. Didn't forget...

they don't have anything like the US, though.

Fer instance, the MIG 29, faster, more maneuverable than the yet to be flying F-35, costs 1/4 of the latter.

The costs for any government project is over-blown so much by corruption or just too many fingers in the pie.

Gotta pay for the shadow gov't.

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 06:15 PM

23. Problem is with Mars's orbit.

It is elliptical and therefore at superior conjunction the distance between Earth and Mars is somewhere in the ball park of 200 million miles, depending on the positions of the two planets.

Travel times will vary greatly based on it. One thing I read is that they may use Venus as a gravitational "slingshot" on those larger journeys.

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 08:17 PM

29. Do it now Putin

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 11:11 PM

33. The technical barrier to Mars isn't the wait, it's not being killed by solar radiation.

Robots can take their sweet time arriving.

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 01:37 AM

35. Trump could in 15 days. He would just negotiate a better deal.

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Response to olddad56 (Reply #35)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 10:49 AM

36. or dick cheney and the martians will welcome us as liberators

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 05:22 PM

38. I wish they would

I wish someone would.

Another space race would be a wonderful thing for all of us.

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 06:29 PM

40. Well in the 1950's we had a man

who could send his wife to the moon in less than 30 minutes.

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Tue Apr 5, 2016, 09:03 AM

43. If I can't do it in Kerbal Space Program...

... it cannot be done.

Gamerscircle might be able to do it, though.

https://www.twitch.tv/gamerscircle

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