The Nuclear Podship
This is the workhorse rocket ship of the Earth-moon system. It’s principal characteristics are as follows:
- Uses a rotating particle bed nuclear reactor to heat hydrogen, as researched in the Timberwind program
- Uses liquid oxygen injected into the engine nozzle for greatly increased thrust, which is the LANTR design
- In normal operation, 97% of the mass of propellant is oxygen, and it provides most of the thrust. The nuclear reactor can be smaller and operate at a lower temperature because of this, reducing cooling needs and increasing operational life span.
- Normally does rendezvous with one of the skyhooks orbiting the moon, which either brakes it for landing, or flings it towards Earth or another destination after launch. This greatly reduces the amount of delta V that must be achieved by its engine
- Normally carries one to four pods, which slot into berths on its spine. These pods are standardized like shipping containers. There are passenger pods and cargo pods. If transport of special cargo is needed, the ship’s spine can instead be fitted with purpose-made adapters.
- The nuclear reactor is surrounded with enough shielding to pose no radiation danger when the ship is standing vertical. When lowered to horizontal for loading and unloading, a plug is placed in the engine bell, after which there is also no danger due to radiation.
- Propellant tanks can be swapped instead of being refilled. To achieve mission requirements, extra tanks can be added or the ship can be reconfigured to accommodate larger tanks. Sizing and systems to be determined.
There is a channel on our Discord server for discussion of the design of this equipment. Come join if there is anything you’d like to comment on or ask – https://discord.gg/9MYMh5Nxsj
Also see the Projects page for general guidance on designing for Moonwards – materials, infrastructure, transport, practices, and main reference works.