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(io9)   In the 1950s military experts had plans to create nuclear-powered planes. Later those engineers and scientists finally ran out of booze and sobered up. Today when you bring this up they laugh nervously and try to quickly change the topic   (io9.com) divider line 79
    More: Scary, nuclear technology, engineers, themes, military  
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5126 clicks; posted to Geek » on 10 Feb 2014 at 10:20 PM (36 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-02-10 08:10:19 PM  
nuclear bombs in everything from excavating mountains to make room for underground cities, to moving aside rock formations to make way for roads, to getting water going for use in hydroelectric power stations

No mention of Project Orion?
 
2014-02-10 08:29:16 PM  
Still a better idea than the Davy Crockett. My dad was one of the crews in (then) West Germany trained on those.


Fun fact: The reactors on our sub fleet actually makes them easier to find than older diesel subs. The reactors vibrate, making some audible noise. When diesel subs are running on battery, they're silent as hell.
 
2014-02-10 08:40:01 PM  
Screw the plane.  Give me a Nucleon.

upload.wikimedia.org

(Fun fact:  This concept car was used as an inspiration for the cars in Fallout 3.)
 
2014-02-10 09:30:22 PM  
Scary?
 
2014-02-10 09:52:21 PM  

cman: Scary?


It would be if one crashed into your house.
 
2014-02-10 09:53:00 PM  

Hz so good: Still a better idea than the Davy Crockett. My dad was one of the crews in (then) West Germany trained on those.


Fun fact: The reactors on our sub fleet actually makes them easier to find than older diesel subs. The reactors vibrate, making some audible noise. When diesel subs are running on battery, they're silent as hell.


I'd assume that's counterbalanced by being much quieter than the diesel subs when the diesel engines are running, and being able to operate without a refueling for as long as the food supply on the sub lasts.

How long will the batteries on diesel sub power it?
 
2014-02-10 09:56:50 PM  
How about nuclear powered cruise missiles?

The proposed use for nuclear-powered ramjets would be to power a cruise missile, called SLAM, for Supersonic Low Altitude Missile. In order to reach ramjet speed, it would be launched from the ground by a cluster of conventional rocket boosters. Once it reached cruising altitude and was far away from populated areas, the nuclear reactor would be made critical. Since nuclear power gave it almost unlimited range, the missile could cruise in circles over the ocean until ordered "down to the deck" for its supersonic dash to targets in the Soviet Union. The SLAM as proposed would carry a payload of many nuclear weapons to be dropped on multiple targets, making the cruise missile into an unmanned bomber.

Talk about a destabilizing technology.
 
2014-02-10 09:59:09 PM  
Not just plans. From Wikipedia: "The Convair NB-36 completed 47 test flights and 215 hours of flight time (during 89 of which the reactor was operated) between September 17, 1955, and March 1957"
 
2014-02-10 10:11:07 PM  

MrBallou: Not just plans. From Wikipedia: "The Convair NB-36 completed 47 test flights and 215 hours of flight time (during 89 of which the reactor was operated) between September 17, 1955, and March 1957"


Well, to be "that guy," the reactor didn't "power" the plane.
 
2014-02-10 10:11:55 PM  

TuteTibiImperes: Hz so good: Still a better idea than the Davy Crockett. My dad was one of the crews in (then) West Germany trained on those.


Fun fact: The reactors on our sub fleet actually makes them easier to find than older diesel subs. The reactors vibrate, making some audible noise. When diesel subs are running on battery, they're silent as hell.

I'd assume that's counterbalanced by being much quieter than the diesel subs when the diesel engines are running, and being able to operate without a refueling for as long as the food supply on the sub lasts.

How long will the batteries on diesel sub power it?


Yeah, diesels are supposed to be very noisy when snorkeling and recharging the batteries.  I'm not sure exactly how long the batteries last, but it isn't a very long running time.

And yeah, our SSBNs go on cruises for a much longer duration than you'd think.
 
2014-02-10 10:37:09 PM  

Radak: Screw the plane.  Give me a Nucleon.



From where the concept of the Ranchero was born, which led to GM designing the El Camino.
 
2014-02-10 10:45:13 PM  
Well,
this thing
macross2.net
and
this thing
4.bp.blogspot.com

were nuclear powered.
 
2014-02-10 10:46:39 PM  

fusillade762: cman: Scary?

It would be if one crashed into your house.


Any plane crashing into my house would scare the shiat out of me
 
2014-02-10 11:02:47 PM  

Radak: Screw the plane.  Give me a Nucleon.

[upload.wikimedia.org image 489x326]

(Fun fact:  This concept car was used as an inspiration for the cars in Fallout 3.)


Came for the Nucleon, leaving happy...
 
2014-02-10 11:20:54 PM  

Hz so good: TuteTibiImperes: Hz so good: Still a better idea than the Davy Crockett. My dad was one of the crews in (then) West Germany trained on those.


Fun fact: The reactors on our sub fleet actually makes them easier to find than older diesel subs. The reactors vibrate, making some audible noise. When diesel subs are running on battery, they're silent as hell.

I'd assume that's counterbalanced by being much quieter than the diesel subs when the diesel engines are running, and being able to operate without a refueling for as long as the food supply on the sub lasts.

How long will the batteries on diesel sub power it?

Yeah, diesels are supposed to be very noisy when snorkeling and recharging the batteries.  I'm not sure exactly how long the batteries last, but it isn't a very long running time.

And yeah, our SSBNs go on cruises for a much longer duration than you'd think.


I remember 6 months at a time. Two crews: Blue and Gold. Come back to port, switch crews, then back out to sea.
 
2014-02-10 11:22:46 PM  

TuteTibiImperes: Hz so good: Still a better idea than the Davy Crockett. My dad was one of the crews in (then) West Germany trained on those.


Fun fact: The reactors on our sub fleet actually makes them easier to find than older diesel subs. The reactors vibrate, making some audible noise. When diesel subs are running on battery, they're silent as hell.

I'd assume that's counterbalanced by being much quieter than the diesel subs when the diesel engines are running, and being able to operate without a refueling for as long as the food supply on the sub lasts.

How long will the batteries on diesel sub power it?


Sterling cycle? Long time.

Navy guys are terrified of the damn things.

Rightfully so.
 
2014-02-10 11:26:57 PM  

fusillade762: nuclear bombs in everything from excavating mountains to make room for underground cities, to moving aside rock formations to make way for roads, to getting water going for use in hydroelectric power stations

No mention of Project Orion?


Sure showed the Fithp who's boss.
 
2014-02-10 11:28:03 PM  
whosits_112:

I remember 6 months at a time. Two crews: Blue and Gold. Come back to port, switch crews, then back out to sea.

Yup, except they also restock the freezers and such before heading back out.
 
2014-02-10 11:30:11 PM  
Some of the bomber designs ran air and/or fuel through the reactor. Wouldn't need to drop nukes perse. Probably spew enough radioactive junk to kill or sicken anyone in the flight path.
 
2014-02-10 11:36:03 PM  
2.bp.blogspot.com

What a drunk nuclear scientist may look like.
 
2014-02-10 11:45:24 PM  

miniflea: fusillade762: nuclear bombs in everything from excavating mountains to make room for underground cities, to moving aside rock formations to make way for roads, to getting water going for use in hydroelectric power stations

No mention of Project Orion?

Sure showed the Fithp who's boss.


Heh. "Footfall" is where I first heard about the idea.
 
2014-02-10 11:48:00 PM  

Radak: Screw the plane.  Give me a Nucleon.



(Fun fact:  This concept car was used as an inspiration for the cars in Fallout 3.)


I want a nucleon.
 
2014-02-10 11:51:50 PM  
Apparently Richard Feynman held the patent on nuclear airplanes.  Unfortunately it's too old to be easily searchable in the USPTO patent database.
 
2014-02-10 11:54:50 PM  
upload.wikimedia.org

A single safety switch, saved the eastern US.
 
2014-02-11 12:01:01 AM  

Ambitwistor: Apparently Richard Feynman held the patent on nuclear airplanes.  Unfortunately it's too old to be easily searchable in the USPTO patent database.


Well... You and I only know about that incident with getting his nominal dollar for each patent idea he tossed out.
 
2014-02-11 12:03:37 AM  
It wouldn't surprise me if this became a viable idea as fuel becomes more expensive.

Think the TSA is a pain in the ass now?  Imagine if every plane carried a nuclear reactor.
 
2014-02-11 12:10:10 AM  

Hz so good: Still a better idea than the Davy Crockett. My dad was one of the crews in (then) West Germany trained on those.


Fun fact: The reactors on our sub fleet actually makes them easier to find than older diesel subs. The reactors vibrate, making some audible noise. When diesel subs are running on battery, they're silent as hell.


Yeah, but they don't have the range on battery that a nuke boat has.  And diesels make a lot of noise.  Still, in brown water environments like the Baltic, or ahem, the Persian Gulf, a modern diesel electric is a scary dangerous worry.  It's getting worse too, since countries like Sweden and Germany are screwing around with things like liquid oxygen and Hydrogen Peroxide systems to make the endurance of non-nuke boats last much much longer than conventional designs.

whosits_112: Hz so good: TuteTibiImperes: Hz so good: Still a better idea than the Davy Crockett. My dad was one of the crews in (then) West Germany trained on those.


Fun fact: The reactors on our sub fleet actually makes them easier to find than older diesel subs. The reactors vibrate, making some audible noise. When diesel subs are running on battery, they're silent as hell.

I'd assume that's counterbalanced by being much quieter than the diesel subs when the diesel engines are running, and being able to operate without a refueling for as long as the food supply on the sub lasts.

How long will the batteries on diesel sub power it?

Yeah, diesels are supposed to be very noisy when snorkeling and recharging the batteries.  I'm not sure exactly how long the batteries last, but it isn't a very long running time.

And yeah, our SSBNs go on cruises for a much longer duration than you'd think.

I remember 6 months at a time. Two crews: Blue and Gold. Come back to port, switch crews, then back out to sea.


Not quite that, but I think it's more like three-four months out.  Back for resupply, refit, repair, then the other crew gets in and goes out again.   A missile boat not at sea is just a target.


And finally...  would it have killed the farking writer to reference the actual plane that flew with a reactor on board?   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convair_NB-36

Somehow it seemed air-air refueling was a better option for long term flight endurance in the end though... cant think why.
 
2014-02-11 12:10:36 AM  

Hz so good: Still a better idea than the Davy Crockett. My dad was one of the crews in (then) West Germany trained on those.


I'll stick with the canoes

www.mouseinfo.com
 
2014-02-11 12:15:01 AM  
Nuclear or fusion powered ram/scramjets may be possible in the future. The fusion powered ones would probably be safer.

Basically, they'd provide the additional thermal energy to the outgoing air, in place of ignited fuel like current models.
 
2014-02-11 12:15:04 AM  

studebaker hoch: [upload.wikimedia.org image 456x724]

A single safety switch, saved the eastern US.


That is absolutely amazing on all accounts.  Even more interesting that the details were just declassified in 2013.
 
2014-02-11 12:17:09 AM  

Oldiron_79: I want a nucleon.


Until you get rear-ended of course.
 
2014-02-11 12:21:36 AM  

cman: fusillade762: cman: Scary?

It would be if one crashed into your house.

Any plane crashing into my house would scare the shiat out of me


Albeit for a short time.
 
2014-02-11 12:22:05 AM  

studebaker hoch: A single safety switch, saved the eastern US.


Meh Goldsboro is a flyover country dump, it would probably be improved by a nuke going off
 
2014-02-11 12:27:13 AM  

studebaker hoch: [upload.wikimedia.org image 456x724]

A single safety switch, saved the eastern US.


http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/?&kt=3 800&lat=35.3848841&lng=-77.992 7651&airburst=0&hob_ft=0&casualties=1&fallout=1&fatalities=40739&injur ies=28316&psi_1=108068&zm=6
Eh. If it happened today, there'd be approximately 40,000 casualties. Not quite the whole eastern U.S.
 
2014-02-11 12:35:26 AM  
Killed? In an atomic blast? No, sir, I'm afraid I don't take much solace in the fact that the  implosion trigger functioned perfectly.
 
2014-02-11 12:35:29 AM  
My father said he was potentially going to be hired by the company that was going to build a nuclear-powered airplane. (He chose something else) He said the design of the B-70 was influenced by the need to have the engines as far away from the crew as possible, so that only a small amount of shielding behind the crew compartment would be needed. He described the two potential engine designs -- in retrospect neither was workable, they were too heavy. Also, ICBMs became the primary strategic nuclear weapon, and supersonic bombers weren't wanted anymore. Then one of the two XB-70 prototypes had a mid-air collision during a photo shoot and that was the end of that.


upload.wikimedia.org

There is another (now retired) aircraft that seems an awful lot like the old B-70 though...

www.airplanesgallery.com
 
2014-02-11 12:38:45 AM  
studebaker hoch:

A single safety switch, saved the eastern US.

If the core hadn't been placed elsewhere on the plane, the Mars Bluff incident woulda been a whole hell of a lot worse.


The Titan II silo explosion in Arkansas was pretty bad, too. In that case, the W-53 landed about 100 ft away from the main gate to the Launch Complex, but at least all the safeties worked.
 
2014-02-11 12:39:20 AM  

fusillade762: nuclear bombs in everything from excavating mountains to make room for underground cities, to moving aside rock formations to make way for roads, to getting water going for use in hydroelectric power stations

No mention of Project Orion?


THANK YOU
done in one
 
2014-02-11 12:44:01 AM  
TFA has no mention that "The other things" in President Kennedy's "We will go to the moon..." was the Rover nuclear rocket.

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard,  "

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouRbkBAOGEw

http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm
 
2014-02-11 12:46:12 AM  

Hz so good: If the core hadn't been placed elsewhere on the plane, the Mars Bluff incident woulda been a whole hell of a lot worse



http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/?lat=35.3848841&lng=-77.9927650999 99 99&zm=10&kt=4000

Well, not worse than W87 dropped at Goldsboro, 160 kilotons if rigged for maximum yield as opposed to the 3.8 megatons from the W87. Definitely would have been worse than just the conventional explosive charges, which apparently made a nice mushroom cloud all on their own.
 
2014-02-11 01:02:15 AM  

StopLurkListen: My father said he was potentially going to be hired by the company that was going to build a nuclear-powered airplane. (He chose something else) He said the design of the B-70 was influenced by the need to have the engines as far away from the crew as possible, so that only a small amount of shielding behind the crew compartment would be needed. He described the two potential engine designs -- in retrospect neither was workable, they were too heavy. Also, ICBMs became the primary strategic nuclear weapon, and supersonic bombers weren't wanted anymore. Then one of the two XB-70 prototypes had a mid-air collision during a photo shoot and that was the end of that.


[upload.wikimedia.org image 850x667]

There is another (now retired) aircraft that seems an awful lot like the old B-70 though...

[www.airplanesgallery.com image 850x557]


There were parts of these various programs who wanted to follow the Nazis and work on developing manned rocket planes (the earliest of which were basically V-2s with cockpits, and killed everyone who tried to "fly" them) It was Dr von Brun who pushed everyone (pretty much everyone) past that phase and got us focused on building ballistic rockets to put people into space.
 
2014-02-11 01:11:35 AM  

Dwight_Yeast: StopLurkListen: My father said he was potentially going to be hired by the company that was going to build a nuclear-powered airplane. (He chose something else) He said the design of the B-70 was influenced by the need to have the engines as far away from the crew as possible, so that only a small amount of shielding behind the crew compartment would be needed. He described the two potential engine designs -- in retrospect neither was workable, they were too heavy. Also, ICBMs became the primary strategic nuclear weapon, and supersonic bombers weren't wanted anymore. Then one of the two XB-70 prototypes had a mid-air collision during a photo shoot and that was the end of that.


[upload.wikimedia.org image 850x667]

There is another (now retired) aircraft that seems an awful lot like the old B-70 though...

[www.airplanesgallery.com image 850x557]

There were parts of these various programs who wanted to follow the Nazis and work on developing manned rocket planes (the earliest of which were basically V-2s with cockpits, and killed everyone who tried to "fly" them) It was Dr von Brun who pushed everyone (pretty much everyone) past that phase and got us focused on building ballistic rockets to put people into space.


www.ece.ubc.ca

Oh hai guys!
 
2014-02-11 01:15:05 AM  

Boojum2k: Hz so good: If the core hadn't been placed elsewhere on the plane, the Mars Bluff incident woulda been a whole hell of a lot worse


http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/?lat=35.3848841&lng=-77.9927650999 99 99&zm=10&kt=4000

Well, not worse than W87 dropped at Goldsboro, 160 kilotons if rigged for maximum yield as opposed to the 3.8 megatons from the W87. Definitely would have been worse than just the conventional explosive charges, which apparently made a nice mushroom cloud all on their own.


I was thinking more like a dirty bomb effect, had the core actually been in the device, but not gone super-critical.

Still, both Goldsboro and Mars Bluff suck, and are in the middle of BFE, so no big loss either way.
 
2014-02-11 01:18:25 AM  

Hz so good: was thinking more like a dirty bomb effect, had the core actually been in the device, but not gone super-critical.


Probably would generate less fallout than an actual initiation. Either way, yeah, middle of nowhere.
Also, in both cases the bomb would have detonated on the ground. Nobody would want to detonate one before they knew it would actually initiate on impact, but it would have been less damaging overall due to the lack of fallout.
 
2014-02-11 02:42:06 AM  

JesusJuice: It wouldn't surprise me if this became a viable idea as fuel becomes more expensive.

Think the TSA is a pain in the ass now?  Imagine if every plane carried a nuclear reactor.


Give me enough cheap nuclear or fission electricity and we'll fix CO2 from the air into liquid fuels. The technology is out there, it's just a matter of economics.
 
2014-02-11 03:01:40 AM  

Oldiron_79: Goldsboro is a flyover country dump, it would probably be improved by a nuke going off


I thought if funny that the street that contains the School Street School is not named School street.
 
2014-02-11 03:21:05 AM  
fun fact most people are morans and should be sold dirt cheap on ebay
 
2014-02-11 03:38:43 AM  

fusillade762: cman: Scary?

It would be if one crashed into your house.


Yeah, as opposed to the hilarity that is a 747 crashing into your house.
 
2014-02-11 04:06:23 AM  

Radak: Screw the plane.  Give me a Nucleon.

[upload.wikimedia.org image 489x326]

(Fun fact:  This concept car was used as an inspiration for the cars in Fallout 3.)


Also it made an excellent IED. A group of raiders wanted to kick your ass BOOM no more raiders. Yes it took a while for the explosion to happen but it's worth it.
 
2014-02-11 04:17:33 AM  

albatros183: fun fact most people are morans and should be sold dirt cheap on ebay


They already sell themselves dirt cheap in the labor market.
 
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