Feasibility of an Antiproton Catalyzed Fission Fragment Rocket
AIR FORCE FLIGHT TEST CENTER EDWARDS AFB CA
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The purpose of this project was to investigate the feasibility of an antiproton catalyzed fission fragment rocket FFR. The FFR is characterized by the extraction of fission fragments from the fuel, and the utilization of their kinetic energy for thrust generation. A significant drawback to previous FFR designs was the required critical nuclear pile as the fission fragment source. The author examined the possibility of replacing the critical pile with a sub- critical pile driven by antiprotons. Recent experiments have revealed that antiprotons stimulate highly energetic fissions in 238U, with a neutron multiplicity of 13.7 neutrons per fissions. This interaction was used as a throttled neutron source. The pile consisted of layers of fissile coated fibers which are designed to allow fission fragments to escape them, where the fragments collide with a fluid. The heated fluid is then ejected from the rocket to provide thrust. The calculations performed indicate that each antiproton injected into the pile can stimulate 8 or more fissions while maintaining a neutron multiplication of less than 0.4. Based on the results, the specific design presented was inadequate. Despite this, the concept of using the antiproton-U interaction as a source of thrust warrants further study. Antiproton, Fission fragment, Nuclear fission, Nuclear rocket, Spacecraft propulsion.
- Nuclear Propulsion