USA Put A Nuclear Reactor In Space And Abandoned It - How Did It Work? - ndbatteries.com

USA Put A Nuclear Reactor In Space And Abandoned It – How Did It Work?

Scott Manley
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In the early days of the US Space program there was a parallel nuclear power program to develop the nuclear power technologies needed for spaceflight. The Space Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP) program worked on both isotope decay generators and fully operational fission reactors. And while several spacecraft have been launched to other planets using radio isotope generators, the US only launched one fully operational test reactor – SNAP 10A which operated according to predictions from ground tests. Until the host spacecraft failed 40 days into the mission.

While the concept was proven, no mission could be matched to the capabilities and no other test reactors have been flown by the USA.

(The Soviet Union on the other hand flew several)

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70 Comments

  1. Scott Manley talking about orbiting nuclear experiments in orbit, saying "fly safe"….

  2. The video ai upscaling thing is so so distracting and awful

  3. if you type "us miitary small reactors" on google every result is some curmudgeon from a university saying how dangerous it would be and how could they be so stupid to do something like that.

  4. The thing that I find most interesting is that despite all the advanced power generation, it is still basically reliant on "steam engines" to generate electricity. Hundreds of years, and we're still in the steam era.

  5. Is anyone working on pairing Stirling engines with small reactors or RTGs? as a higher efficiency alternative.

  6. You have to be ignorant, a stooge, or a propaganda pawn of NASA…..between the make believe moon landings and this theory you’ll fool some people….if you don’t think, or know about much worse nuclear parts, propulsion, and weapons in space now let alone over the last 50 years…..maybe go back to your little Cessna plane and just think about rainbows and fairy’s. For everyone else, watch everyday astronaut or even the Chinese sites for actual info on space. Incredible anyone subscribes or follows you…..😂😂😂

  7. "and the coolant for the reactor… well, it's kinda cool"

  8. USA accused of other sending Nuclear into space when they have already done it isn't that call hypocritical than again USA policy for the world is "Do as your told and Not how US does it" like how USA destroy and loot countries like Iraq & Syria while China help developing countries around the world for peace and prosperity!

  9. If they captured this thing and teathered it to the ISS could they still boot it back up and use it for power (maybe with a more efficient power conversion)?

  10. Interesting video, I lived through most all of this and don't recall much of it ever getting into the news. But then when NASA publically announced that they were going to launch a reactor, there were demonstrations.

  11. "It'll stay up there in orbit for another 1000 years, giving us enough time to figure out how to dispose of it before it burns up in the atmosphere." — sure, unless it'll be caught up in the Kessler syndrome.

  12. Scott, I question your timing when Russia is withdrawing from constraints about nuclear in space. Is this intentional? Bad form.

  13. There are certain topics that make your sign-off catchphrase sound extra ironic.

  14. The fly safe hits harder than usual when you have a nuclear reactor onboard.

  15. Wow, the video is so chewed up by some AI filter (or strong denoiser with edge detection?) that I was completely distracted by the weird deformations it produced, and could not follow the narration. At some points it looked more like a drawing or an anime than old, authentic footage…

  16. please don't use those weird AI upscalers. The footage looks super weird, especially with people in it. I think original footage should be preferred even if the quality isn't that great. I wouldn't be surprised if the fake details that are sometimes inserted by upscalers would trigger some conspiracy theorists…

  17. The AI "enhanced" oldschoold footage looks way worse than it did originally. Great clip anyway !

  18. 3:00 I could be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure Hastelloy is a nickel based alloy, mainly with chromium I believe. Not a hafnium-tungsten alloy, unless theres a different alloy that sounds similar to Hastelloy but spelled different.

  19. I wonder how much electricity they could generate with that much fuel now. I bet it would be pretty powerful.

  20. With modern thermoelectrics and fuel that has already passed the hazard of launch, someone really should put this to good use even if it's just a heater for something going to deep space.

  21. Is there enough uranium in the reactor for it to be worth salvaging and reusing — in space? It probably wouldn't be worth trying to use the reactor as-is, because not only could the coolant be missing, the generator is pretty miserable; but it looks like opening the lid and pulling the fuel rods out might not be that hard. (With a robot, naturally.) If these could be used in a modern reactor with a Stirling or Rankine cycle generator it should be possible to get a decent amount of power out of it, and all without the political problems of launching nuclear fuel.

    Also, something deeply horrible has happened to all that archive footage…

  22. Funniest part of the program is Voyager itself. Carrying a golden record with messages from the people of earth. Should have said: "by the way, if you are listening to this message, you are probably dead from exposure to our nuclear payload".

  23. So somewhere in the year 3000 we'll be treated by a video of Scotticus Manius (we readopt Old Latin along the way) about this millennium old space tech.
    That is, if we survive the year 2525. (yes that is a reference that's lost on 99,9% of the people but I'm sure Scott gets it)

  24. I remember during the summer of 1967 or so seeing three colors in the night sky over SE Pennsylvania. Do you know what test the government had done? There were 3 gaseous clouds that i could block out of my vision using my thumb. But it was persistent and remained in the night sky all night.

    The event involving the release of gas by a rocket that displayed three primary colors in the night sky, is likely a reference to a high-altitude scientific experiment conducted during the 1960s. During this period, the U.S. government and other organizations were engaged in upper atmospheric research, which often included the release of vapor tracers such as barium, sodium, and lithium to study the behavior of the ionosphere and to trace the movement of particles in space.

    These vapor tracers could create colorful clouds in the sky when they were exposed to sunlight or when they reacted with other elements in the atmosphere. The colors you saw—red, green, and blue—are characteristic of these types of experiments, as different chemicals can produce different colors when they are ionized. For example, barium can produce green or blue clouds, while sodium yields a bright yellow or orange color.

    Unfortunately, my search did not yield specific details about an experiment in Pennsylvania in 1967 that matches my description. However, it's worth noting that these tests were not uncommon during that time as part of research into atmospheric science and space weather. The fact that the clouds were persistent and visible all night suggests that they were indeed part of a controlled release during a scientific experiment.

    I am interested in finding more concrete information. Can you provide more details about the specific event?

  25. one more important thing about NaK, if it comes in contact with water, its EXTREMELY explosive, so please know what you are doing with it!

  26. Don't forget that the Apollo landers also carried nuclear generators, which might still be operating. Are they? And is there still a usable TV camera up there?

  27. Mercury is pretty heavy. They wouldnt probably need much, but how long would turbine last….

  28. Hey Scott, please don't use ai enhanced video, they make me trippy even if I am not drunk 😂

  29. I still have old technical papers, where the MDAC company actually made pacemaker radioactive ionic batteries, for Pacemakers, repeat pacemakers. We looked at these, in lieu of RTGs on several black projects. Unfortunately, even though they had 8+years of electrical power, the adjacent electronics were somewhat sketchy, and unreliable. RTGs were 110% reliable, for decades, and did not need anything to keep them functional. The degradation due to decay, was usually accommodated via a truly simplistic upconverter which only had three active semiconductors. This does reduce the available power in the long term, but allows digital electronics to operate at their rated voltages, over some smaller duty cycle. If you give me a 500Watt RTG, I can design a reliable power delivery system, which will last for more than 100 years. Since we already did this, for practical purposes, several times over…

  30. Was wondering have you theyard of October ends ? they's new song is fire! You should react to it

  31. So these reactors will make great target practice for earths meteor space defense. Goal of redirecting orbit into the sun

  32. this episode is gold. at 14:22 was one of the several times i had to 'stop 'rewind and hear that agai n!!!. serious mad ideas from science / inventors playing. strewth, cheers. great show. i do have a rocket engine topic you probably can explain real quick . Rocket engines Push, How is the push connected the structure? and then maintain vectoring?

  33. The comment section is just as bad as it used to be when everyone was using CB's to talk on……a bunch of arm chair cb Rambo's…. the….only thing that changed is now every one can't breathe… great video on the rocket 👍👍👍👍

  34. I believe that the alloy "Hastelloy" is a trademark for one of the inconel alloys.

  35. If only we had something with a large cargo bay, capable of landing on a runway so we could recover hazardous payloads from orbit safely…

  36. what would have been the outcome if the rocket blew up in upper atmosphere and burned up during re-entry…..I see you covered that, still risky business? Magneto hydro dynamics might be a more effecient method to produce power…nice research well done

  37. They just need to figure out assembling crap in orbit already, heck the ISS is still working fine so give it another arm and start building ships and new stations that way. After you bother fixing the EVA suits, most organizations don't even let high voltage gloves go a year without inspection or replacement let alone an entire life support suit.

  38. A video about the SERT-2 ion thruster test in 1970 would be interesting.

  39. Does anyone know exactly how many nuclear reactors are currently orbiting Earth?

  40. I'm sorry, but the AI upscaling in this does not look good – I've always really enjoyed seeing real old archival footage in your videos, I hope this isn't a permanent thing.

  41. What happened to the footage? Looks like some kind of AI powered restoring algorithm. And I can understand why something like this is used. Maybe in the future the results will be better.

  42. The good size of running a metal cooled reactor in dpace is that it won't catch fire as they tend to do on Earth…

  43. I would be AMAZING if we could memory hole all the alleged 'progress' we've made on environmentally safe things and go back to having things that WORK the way they're supposed to. Imagine the possibilities!!

  44. will it not be completely forgotten about in a thousand years? maybe, maybe not?

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