Mar 4th 2022
This Week in Space 1
We talk atomic rockets and nuclear power sources (RTGs) in space. In "The Martian," Watney used a surplus Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator to heat his rover but real spacecraft, like the Galileo and Cassini probes to Jupiter and Saturn, have used nuclear isotopes to power their vast arrays of instruments. And, the amazing Voyager spacecraft still talk to us from beyond the solar system powered by a small plutonium pellet.
Then we warp into the amazing world of atomic rocket engines or Nuclear Thermal Rockets. In old sci-fi movies, everything cool was atomic and rockets were no exception. But did you know that America and the Soviet Union experimented with fission-reactor rockets, with the US actually testing a fission-powered rocket in Nevada for over 90 minutes? And now, they are back, promising to cut travel times to Mars and beyond. Join Rod Pyle and Space.com's Tariq Malik for atomic rockets!
We also talk about the war in Ukraine and if Starlink can help connect a besieged country. Plus, that wayward rocket finally hit the moon.
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- How will Ukraine keep SpaceX's Starlink internet service online?
- Moon impact: Chinese rocket stage still in space says U.S. Space Command
- NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application)
- NTP Engine System – A Robust Evolutionary Design
- Nuclear propulsion planning focuses on modular, sustainable designs
- NASA issues contracts for nuclear thermal propulsion studies