Retro future installment and nuclear reactor explosions

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David Brown

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Dec 8, 2022, 10:52:09 AM12/8/22
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Here's a link for an installment of my Marx Space Guys adventure, which I previously posted a sample of.
https://trendytroodon.blogspot.com/2022/12/fiction-space-guys-adventure-part-10.html
Something I get into that I hadn't posted before is the idea that a nuclear reactor could produce an actual atomic explosion. From my own research, actual meltdowns are implosions rather than explosions, a line I worked into the story. Another fun detail I haven't made explicit is that my spaceship is supposed to be fueled by argon, a gas so ludicrously non reactive that it's literally used to put out fires. It's gotten me thinking, has anybody really tried coming up with a completely safe spaceship???

David N. Brown
Mesa, Arizona

Scott Lurndal

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Dec 8, 2022, 11:25:06 AM12/8/22
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David Brown <davidn...@gmail.com> writes:
>Here's a link for an installment of my Marx Space Guys adventure, which I p=
>reviously posted a sample of.
>https://trendytroodon.blogspot.com/2022/12/fiction-space-guys-adventure-par=
>t-10.html
>Something I get into that I hadn't posted before is the idea that a nuclear=
> reactor could produce an actual atomic explosion. From my own research, ac=
>tual meltdowns are implosions rather than explosions, a line I worked into =
>the story. Another fun detail I haven't made explicit is that my spaceship =
>is supposed to be fueled by argon, a gas so ludicrously non reactive that i=
>t's literally used to put out fires.

given that there already exist spacecraft that are 'fueled' by xenon
and other noble gases, using argon as reaction mass for an Ion
Thruster isn't out of the question.

BCFD36

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Dec 8, 2022, 1:24:10 PM12/8/22
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Although argon has been used in Hall Effect Thrusters (ion drive), there
are better choices. Xenon and krypton are more commonly used. These are
used because the ions are heavier than other noble gas ions, therefore
giving more thrust. Xenon thrusters are used on the US Air Force AEHF
satellites. On one launch, the booster failed that was to take the
satellite from LEO (Low Earth Orbit) up to a geosync orbit so they
decided to use the Hall Thrusters to slowly move it up. If I remember
correctly, it took approx. nine months. This may be unique. The Hall
Thrusters are used for station keeping.

--
Dave Scruggs
Captain, Boulder Creek Fire (Retired)
Sr. Software Engineer - Stellar Solutions (Definitely Retired)

Scott Lurndal

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Dec 8, 2022, 1:43:31 PM12/8/22
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While the heaver noble gases are more efficient, argon is far more
abundant (at almost 1% of the atmosphere, vs. 0.086 ppm for xenon).

Quadibloc

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Dec 8, 2022, 1:51:29 PM12/8/22
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On Thursday, December 8, 2022 at 11:24:10 AM UTC-7, BCFD36 wrote:

> Although argon has been used in Hall Effect Thrusters (ion drive), there
> are better choices.

The Hall Effect: it's not just for keyboards any more!

John Savard

David Brown

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Dec 8, 2022, 2:44:29 PM12/8/22
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A stated consideration in my story is that the argon level in the atmosphere of Mars is twice that of Earth measured by percentage, though that's kind of like comparing a very large rodent with a very small elephant. By comparison, I've posted my calculation that xenon is 100 times scarcer than gold with current production methods. If you're starting a voyage from Mars, argon is the cheap option.

pete...@gmail.com

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Dec 8, 2022, 11:29:23 PM12/8/22
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Argon is cheap, but heavier is better. Xenon is used in some
applications, but lighter krypton is far cheaper.

Beyond xenon, the next noble gas is unfortunately Radon, which
radioactive, with a short half life.

Pt

BCFD36

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Dec 9, 2022, 5:24:05 PM12/9/22
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On 12/8/22 11:44, David Brown wrote:
> On Thursday, December 8, 2022 at 11:43:31 AM UTC-7, Scott Lurndal wrote:
>> BCFD36 <bcf...@cruzio.com> writes:
>>> On 12/8/22 08:25, Scott Lurndal wrote:

[stuff deleted]

> A stated consideration in my story is that the argon level in the atmosphere of Mars is twice that of Earth measured by percentage, though that's kind of like comparing a very large rodent with a very small elephant. By comparison, I've posted my calculation that xenon is 100 times scarcer than gold with current production methods. If you're starting a voyage from Mars, argon is the cheap option.

I understand what you are getting at. However, given how much larger an
argon engine would be, and how much more you would need, and how much
less thrust (lots less) you would get, I am not sure if the costs would
be all that much different.

And no, I am not going to do the math.

David Brown

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Dec 9, 2022, 8:34:47 PM12/9/22
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Engine size isn't something I had figured on as a consideration. Per all the sources I've consulted, engines in the ion/ plasma/ Hall effect Venn diagram can feasibly run on argon, xenon, other noble gases and any combination thereof, and every place I've mentioned this in the story has assumed as much. I also settled on dimensions of about 1.8 m wide and 1.8 long, which to my understanding would be a bit big compared to existing designs. The overall aesthetic has been Cold War Soviet, which is pretty much carried over from a series I used to do called Exotroopers. Slow, cheap, fat and ugly have all followed accordingly. I'm interested if all this does indeed check out.

Robert Carnegie

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Dec 10, 2022, 3:38:56 PM12/10/22
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Since the initial function of a spaceship power source
is to blow the ship into orbit, making that completely safe
is tricky.

I saw experiments on TV of repeatedly shooting a laser
at the underside of a flying disc. This caused air under
the disc to expand and push it upwards. But that was
some time ago and obviously it hasn't caught on.

As for a nuclear explosion, I think that's a matter of
ordinary physics: if gas or liquid or air is heated or
evaporated, either it expands, or if it can't then
pressure increases and eventually it breaks out
of whatever it's contained in. Nuclear reactors usually
are built not to let anything out, but maybe under
pressure it's better to leak than to explode. Like a
good pressure cooker with a safety valve.
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