JACKASS FLATS, Nev. AP
-A nuclear rocket engine system, part of the nation's program fro advanced?
JACKASS FLATS, Nev. AP
Scene 1 NRX-EST on pad at Nuclear Rocket Development Station
Scene 2 Extreme close-up NRX-EST sign on test car door. This test was the first in which a NERVA nuclear reactor and other engine components were brought together for power operation as a complete rocket propulsion system.
Scene 3 The liquid hydrogen turbo pump, control valves and associated hydrogen components of this test engine were located within the test car and driven by a hot hydrogen gas provided by the reactor itself.
Scene 4 & 5 this interior view of the reactor test car shows the complicated machinery that provides the hydrogen to the reactor where it is heated and exhausted skyward through the nozzle.
Scene 6 For today's test, the nuclear engine was tested in a nozzle-up position, rather than in a conventional flight position.
Scene 7 The test was conducted from a control point two miles away from the reactor test facilities.
Scene 8 In operation liquid hydrogen is pumped through the engine and into the nuclear reactor which generates more than a billion thermal watts. The liquid hydrogen rapidly expand, changing into a high pressure gas, which is then exhausted through the nozzle to develop thrust. As an upper stage for space travel, the nuclear engine is approximately twice as efficient as any chemical rocket under development, and will make possible manned missions to Mars and planets beyond.
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Background: JACKASS FLATS, Nev. AP
-A nuclear rocket engine system, part of the nation's program fro advanced space exploration' was tested for the first time today successfully. A Nerva engine system shot an almost colourless flame 300 feet into the air in a 15-minute test which developed 40 per cent of the system's 55,000 pounds of potential thrust.
Harold Finger of the Space Nuclear Propulsion Office said Nerva ''performed beyond expectations'' at the desert Nuclear Rocket Development Station here' 80 mile from Las Vegas.
Full power tests are expected within the next several weeks' Finger said. The first test was to provide operating characteristics and potential power ranges of the which has a nuclear rocket reactor as its energy source.
Nerva is a phase of Project Rover and is built by Aerojet General and Westinghouse. Past testing at Jackass Flats has dealt with nuclear rocket reactors only. Nerva has its own reactor' cooled-hydrogen fuel system and exhaust system all linked together in one package.
A nuclear rocket engine would have to develop 250,000 pounds of thrust for usefulness in space exploration. The nuclear power package is more efficient and compact than today's rocker engines' Finger said.
NEAL: (VO) TO BEGIN CLOSE TO HOME... AT JACKASS FLATS NEVADA TODAY THE SPACE ADMINISTRATION AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION TESTED A NUCLEAR ROCKET ENGINE SYSTEM FOR THE FIRST TIME. CALLED "NERVA," THE UNIT...ENGINE NOZZLE ON TOP...NUCLEAR REACTOR AND HYDROGEN FUEL SUPPLY LIKE A BIG TANK IN THE MIDDLE...LITERALLY PLUG INTO A WALL...CONNECTING THE ENGINE SYSTEM WITH THE CONTROL ROOM. AFTER MONTHS OF PREPARATION, THIS MORNING THE SYSTEMS WERE READY FOR A FIRING TEST...AND THE REACTOR WAS RUN UP.
NERVA...IS AN ENGINE FOE TESTING...NOT FOR FLYING...SO THE NOZZLE POINTS UP IN THE AIR...NOT IN THE USUAL FIRING POSITION. COOLED HYDROGEN IS PUMPED THROUGH THE REACTOR...EXPANDS...AND IS DRIVEN OUT, PROVIDING THRUST...POWER. 25 THOUSAND 40 PERCENT OF THE SYSTEMS POTENTIAL...AND FAR GREATER THAN EXPECTATIONS. A VERY SUCCESSFUL FIRST TEST OF THE ROCKET ENGINE THAT CAN MAKE POSSIBLE MANNED FLIGHTS TO THE PLANETS.