Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reactor In-Flight Test (RIFT)

Scott Lowther is on "Nukes-R-Awesome" roll.  He presents the RIFT vehicle, a concept for a nuclear rocket that would have been launched atop a Saturn V and ignited sub-orbitally.  It would then plunk into the Atlantic Ocean some 1300 miles downrange and "safely" sink to the bottom.  If the project had gone foreward, maybe Cloverfield would have been a documentary.  Anyway, I wasn't very familiar with this concept.  It does surprise me that this project would have seriously been considered.  A little surfing found numerous references, which I haven't digested.  I think I'll wait for Scott's follow-on.  In case you want to jump ahead:
  • Wikipedia, NERVA,  it appears a NERVA derivative would have been used for RIFT.
  • Astronautix, Saturn I RIFT, this disucsses a Saturn I vs. V and references a ROVER reactor (doesn't exactly fit but, as I mentioned, I haven't studied the subject).
  • Saturn V Restoration Project, Team Member Info for Alfred G. Orillion, Chief of the Nuclear Criteria Unit, NASA MSFC.
  • Atomic Rockets, Ford Aeronutronic EMPIRE (1962), discusses Mars study contracts issued by MSFC in 1962, their relation to RIFT and NERVA.