Roscosmos proposed a "nuclear power plant on Mars" and immediately abandoned this idea. In the United States, a space reactor has already been tested

Roscosmos proposed a "nuclear power plant on Mars" and immediately abandoned this idea. In the United States, a space reactor has already been tested
Roscosmos proposed a "nuclear power plant on Mars" and immediately abandoned this idea. In the United States, a space reactor has already been tested
Anonim

Recently, one of the key divisions of Roscosmos, the Arsenal design bureau, offered to deliver a nuclear power plant to Mars. The head of the state corporation Dmitry Rogozin almost immediately called the idea a "kindergarten." Such a reaction looks as strange as possible against the background of domestic enthusiasm associated with the "atomization" of space. In addition, American colleagues in the industry have been developing their own version of the reactor for extraterrestrial research for a long time and have already successfully tested a prototype.

Roscosmos proposed a "nuclear power plant on Mars" and immediately abandoned this idea. In the United States, a space reactor has already been tested

On Saturday, RIA Novosti reported about an interesting idea of ​​Russian engineers and scientists from KB "Arsenal" with reference to the internal documents of the enterprise, which are at the disposal of the agency. According to the proposed concept, the nuclear power plant can be used to power a promising domestic base on Mars. The power of the installation is not specified, but the nuclear tug "Zeus" is planned to be used to deliver it to the Red Planet. That is, about 10-20 tons, which is comparable to the reactor of the spacecraft itself (about a megawatt of electrical power).

On the approach to Mars, the so far unnamed nuclear power plant will have to separate, enter the atmosphere and descend to the surface using parachutes. The nuclear tug will then maneuver in the Red Planet's gravitational field and land on a return course. But instead of returning home, it can be used as a powerful signal repeater located at one of the Lagrange points of the Earth-Mars system. In this area of ​​space, the gravitational forces of the two planets are equalized, and an object can be in a relatively stable position without significant fuel consumption.

The connection between the tug and the Martian nuclear power plant is not only in the field of logistics - for the development of the latter, the specialists of KB "Arsenal" propose to use the technologies developed during the creation of "Zeus". The power plant should only be activated on the surface of the Red Planet. There, the installation will power the base, provide it with energy for domestic purposes, scientific activities and the development of resources.

The idea, at first glance, is quite reasonable. However, the head of the entire "Roskosmos", according to RBC, considered the result of the mental activity of subordinates "kindergarten". According to him, the state corporation does not have such plans and did not offer anything of the kind. Dmitry Rogozin posted such a comment on his Twitter account, but then for some reason deleted this entry. Regardless of the wishes of the official, as they say, "the Internet remembers everything."

Interestingly, in the United States, the development of nuclear reactors for use in space and on other celestial bodies is proceeding at a rather vigorous pace. The Kilopower project was launched in 2015, and by 2018 NASA specialists demonstrated a working prototype. It is radically different from any schemes - both previously used and implemented now. The fuel element in it heats the heat pipes with molten sodium, which, in turn, transfer energy to the free piston Stirling engines. And they are already generating electricity in a linear generator.

During a series of full-scale experiments, the installation showed an efficiency of about 30% - an order of magnitude more than that of previously created reactors for working in space. In fact, this efficiency is comparable to that of "full-fledged" nuclear power plants, where decaying radioactive fuel turns water into steam, which drives turbines. At the same time, the Kilopower with an electrical power per kilowatt weighs only 134 kilograms and contains 28 kilograms of uranium-235 (the size of a cast core is comparable to a roll of paper towels).

On the one hand, the American project does not amaze the imagination with the declared power: the largest model Kilopower will produce 10 kilowatts and weighs one and a half tons. What is it compared to a megawatt! But on the other hand, NASA's development is not simple, but elementary. In addition to the control rod and pistons in the sealed chambers of Stirling engines, it has no moving parts at all. The estimated service life reaches 12-15 years, depending on the operating mode, it does not need cooling (passive heat dissipation by the walls of the case is enough) and maintenance or refueling.

The nuclear power plant of the megawatt class (NPPU), which will become the heart of the domestic Zeus (the Nuclon project), uses a more “earthly” approach. The core of the reactor heats the coolant gas (helium with xenon), which drives the turbine. Excess heat is discharged by the drip cooler-radiator into the open space. The development of the entire system has been going on with varying success since 2009. According to some information, including on the basis of Rogozin's statements, it seems that today some components of the nuclear tug have been tested and several production models have been created. Zeus' first flight is expected in 2030 and will last 50 months.

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