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The Nuclear Rocket Engine and Flight Program

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1 Author(s)
Schmidt, Howard R. ; AEC-NASA Space Nuclear Propulsion Office

A year ago at this time the curtain was ringing down on the last of three KIWI-A reactor experiments. The ROVER program had been aimed at reactor research and development, and a follow-on KIWI-B series of reactor ground tests was planned. The KIWI-A test results were most encouraging, and demonstrated certain key performance parameters as well as solutions to some critical design problems. Many of us were convinced a successful nuclear rocket engine could be built, but development of a safe, reliable flight propulsion system required that the resources of industry be applied to the many problems associated with the complete vehicle. We foresaw a saving in time if the planned KIWI-B reactor tests could be integrated into an engine development program. Several important decisions were required if the KIWI's were to lead to anything that might fly at the earliest possible time.

Published in:

Nuclear Science, IRE Transactions on  (Volume:9 ,  Issue: 1 )