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Nuclear-Powered Aircraft failed for both USA and Soviets

Both U.S. and Soviet Attempts at Developing a Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Ended in Failure   Nuclear shielding and weight issues proved insurmountable to both the U.S. and the Soviet Union.  By  Marcia Wendorf, November 17, 2019. In the 1950s, people dreamed of using nuclear energy to power all manner of transport — from cars to airplanes to airships. In the U.S. the father of the nuclear reactor, Enrico Fermi, envisioned a nuclear-powered aircraft, while in the USSR, the chief designer of the Soviet atomic bomb, Aleksandr Kurchatov, thought nuclear-powered “heavy aircraft” could be built.

A nuclear-powered bomber seemed a no-brainer since it could theoretically stay aloft indefinitely, providing an effective deterrent to a nuclear attack. Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union researched nuclear-powered aircraft, but neither country developed an active-duty version due to problems inherent in the design. These included shielding air and ground crews from radiation, and the possible effect of a crash.

To date, no civilian nuclear-powered aircraft has ever been created.

Nuclear-powered jet engines

In May 1946, the U.S. Air Force initiated the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) program. In 1951, NEPA was supplanted by the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) program, which was run by the Atomic Energy Commission………….

As an odd aside to the nuclear-powered aircraft story, the U.S. military considered solving the shielding problem by employing elderly crews to fly the nuclear-powered airplanes. Their thinking was that the crew would die of natural causes before the effects of radiation could kill them.

November 17, 2019 - Posted by | technology

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