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What do you do with spent nuclear rocket stages?


oberlerchner123
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I know... It's a game and crashing my nuclear rockets into Kerbin won't really hurt anyone.

But I don't like the thought of doing it anyway. :P

The thought hit me as I am about to return my spaceplane from Laythe back to Kerbin. Spaceplane Laythe Orbit

And I figured it probably wouldn't be very nice to deorbit the nuclear rocket section it's docked to and let it rain radioactive waste over the homes of other Kerbals.

I suppose there's several options, like aerobraking and keeping it in orbit and maybe sending it on a 1 way trip somewhere with a new payload.

Or just setting it up to miss and keeping it flying in a eccentric orbit around the sun, while letting my space plane return on it's own power.

I could just smash it into the Mun too I suppose. :D

A few days ago I also sent a rocket to Duna to put a rover onto the surface and place a satellite in orbit around it and Ike.

When everything was deployed what I was left with was a nuclear engine strapped to a Rockomax 16 tank.

I could have just clicked End Flight but it was still 3/4 full and it seamed like a waste and I wanted to do something with it.

So I now end up with the butt ugly rocket "landed" near the north pole of Ike instead. And it can still fly...

I'm just curious, what is everyone else doing with their spent nuclear rockets?

Also as a side question does anyone know how far radiation would be spread if a rocket like the LV-N would really explode on reentry?

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From Wikipedia:

In January 1965, the U.S. Rover program purposely placed a Kiwi Reactor (KIWI-TNT) on fast excursion to simulate a worst-case scenario of a fall from altitude into the ocean such as might occur in a booster failure after launch. The rocket was positioned on a railroad car in the Jackass Flats area of the Nevada Test Site, with the reactor specially modified so as to go prompt critical.

The radiation released would have caused fatalities out to 600 feet and injuries out to 2000 feet.

With current solid-core nuclear thermal rocket designs, it's possible that potentially radioactive fuel elements would be dispersed intact over a much smaller area. The overall hazard from the elements would be confined to near the launch site and would be much lower than the many open-air nuclear weapons tests of the 1950s.

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For a long time I was recovering them with parachutes on Kerbin whenever possible. Later on, I started to recover the whole Mark Twain vehicle.

AJG6g.jpg

SwTnA8H.jpg

My most recent space tugs that use nuclear engines are designed to remain in space and be reused for multiple trips to the planets and back, but they have parachutes on their nuclear side pods so that they can potentially be returned to Kerbin later for refurbishment.

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From Wikipedia:

Ah how could I have missed that. Being the guy that usually instantly reads up every single thing he thinks of on wikipedia if he's sitting at a computer...

Thanks.

Edit: And bringing them down with parachutes. That's something I havn't thought about. Interesting.

I suppose that could be done with other stages too making them reuseable. Hmm. Cool.

Edited by oberlerchner123
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I *generally* try not to deorbit them on Kerbin. You can always crash them into the Mün. That would be harmless.

Well, harmless for a while at any rate. But eventually... :D

Space1999Explosion032012-thumb-330x224-86695.jpg

I know, I know, it doesn't work that way. But the Space:1999 joke was right there. :)

Edited by Jack Wolfe
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I use KAS to recover spent nuclear stages from kerbin orbit and tug them down to the ground without just crashing them (since my orbital stage doesn't usually have a docking port asside from on the capsule that has ditched it to re-enter the atmosphere)

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I prefer to only include the NV's on reusable, dockable kick/courier stages which push stuff to/from Kerbin orbit and park up until I need them again

Alas, all my courier pods, in-fact my whole game, just went up in smoke with my home PC HDD :\

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A while ago, I might have said "Just launch them at the sun!"

But now KSP has taught me that launching something into the sun is much harder than it sounds

I know what you mean. Bad physics in space games and sci-fi movies have also messed up my thinking in the regard.

Glad to have found a game like Kerbal, a game you actually learn some science from, while just being really entertaining.

I prefer to only include the NV's on reusable, dockable kick/courier stages which push stuff to/from Kerbin orbit and park up until I need them again

Alas, all my courier pods, in-fact my whole game, just went up in smoke with my home PC HDD :\

Sounds like the way to go. Reuseability is definitely something I'll look into in the future.

And well that sucks, sorry to hear that. Kind of worrying, I probably should start doing my monthly backups again.

Got lucky so far, the only time I had a harddisk fail on me, I got it working again long enough to get all the files off of it.

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I was just laughing about this with my wife the other night. I've been working on a large interplanetary craft powered by four of the 2.5m NERVAs from KSPX, and I had a least half a dozen crashes on the pad before I got the boosters right. My launchpad must be the worst SuperFund site ever.

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just try to dump them in the ocean. There is very very very little harm they can do there (high-energy radioactive decay is almost completely contained with as little as 30 feet of water)

edit: I should say with the masses you are talking about, you would have to be pretty much intentionally launching nuclear engines INTO the water for a while before there would be a noticeable environmental concern

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What do I do with Atomic Engines?

- Throw large amounts them onto Kerbin's icecaps at interplanetary speeds

- Crash them into the ocean right off the coast of KSC

- Use them as descent engines for landing at KSC

- Use them as aircraft engines to fly around KSC

- Fire them at command pods with Kerbals inside:

Ys8KoYV.png

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Just drop 'em wherever. It's not like the Kerbals are too concerned about safety anyway.

Edit: Oh, and here's a fun one:

(Concerning Apollo 13's LEM, Aquarius)

The lunar module burned up in Earth's atmosphere on April 17, 1970, having been targeted to enter over the Pacific Ocean to reduce the possibility of contamination from a SNAP 27 radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) on board. Intended to power the mission's ALSEP, the RTG survived re-entry (as designed) and landed in the Tonga Trench. While it will remain radioactive for several thousand years, it does not appear to be releasing any of its 3.9 kg of radioactive plutonium-238.[37]
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I do what any self respecting Kerbal would do. Aim and launch them at school-children.:)

That's offensively horrible. How dare you even think of such a thing without considering the Kerbal-School-System is always next door to the bacon factory. I don't care about the children but no one nukes bacon.

As for me, I usually leave my spent stages wherever they're spent. Interplanetary orbit is most common. Some are in orbit of Jool/Duna, and others are in random orbits around Kerbol. I really don't put any effort into retrieving anything, even Kerbals. They knew what they signed up for.

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