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Old 12th August 2019, 03:15 PM   #1
crescent
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(nuclear powered) Rocket mystery: What weapon was Russia testing in Arctic?

Rocket mystery: What weapon was Russia testing in Arctic?

Nuclear powered aircraft?

Quote:
Five Russian nuclear engineers who died in a rocket engine explosion have been buried in Sarov, a closed town 373km (232 miles) east of Moscow, where nuclear warheads are made.

The Russian state nuclear agency, Rosatom, said the experts had been testing a nuclear-powered engine. But it gave no further technical details.

The test was on an offshore platform in the Arctic, at a naval test range.

Russia has previously tested a nuclear-powered cruise missile, "Burevestnik".

But officials did not specify the system involved in Thursday's disastrous test.

The explosion was followed by a 40-minute radiation spike in Severodvinsk, a city 40km (25 miles) east of the Nyonoksa test range, by the White Sea.


Was this like a modern-day Russian version of Project Pluto?
Quote:
After delivering all its warheads, the missile could then spend weeks flying over populated areas at low altitudes, causing tremendous ground damage with its shock wave and fallout. When it finally lost enough power to fly, and crash-landed, the engine would have a good chance of spewing deadly radiation for months to come.
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Old 12th August 2019, 04:04 PM   #2
kedo1981
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WOW, project Pluto sounds nightmarish.
I predict that the Russians will release tidbits of facts over the course of a couple of years until they are somehow exposed by a journalist who will be mysteriously found dead of unknown causes.
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Old 13th August 2019, 12:03 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by kedo1981 View Post
WOW, project Pluto sounds nightmarish.
I predict that the Russians will release tidbits of facts over the course of a couple of years until they are somehow exposed by a journalist who will be mysteriously found dead of unknown causes.
It's one of those things that seems like the conceptual manifestation of a "Doomsday Device".
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Old 13th August 2019, 12:12 PM   #4
Giordano
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I understand that major reasons for the discontinuance of the USA Project Pluto included concerns about the radiological safety of the researchers, assembly crews, launch crews, and of US and allied civilian populations. So I have to ask: based on their prior history of developing nuclear powered submarines and nuclear bombs/missiles, can we assume Russia cares about any of this?
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Old 13th August 2019, 12:19 PM   #5
theprestige
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Hopefully they're just following the same story arc as the NERVA Program, just forty years later:
1. Recognize the theoretical possibility.
2. Acknowledge the practical potential.
3. Develop the necessary techniques and processes.
4. Build a proof of concept.
5. Agree that while definitely possible, it's not really a good idea.
6. End it there.

That said.

US military might around the globe is mediated primarily by its supercarriers. These are extremely powerful weapons, and they're protected by one of the most advanced and robust air defense systems in the world.

Any nation that wants to contest some part of the world's oceans with the US, must figure out a way to crack that nut. The current wisdom, adopted by both the Chinese and the Russians, is that the solution is going to be very very fast missiles, that will get through the US Navy's defenses and hit the carrier before they can be detected and shot down.

Current high-speed anti-ship missiles have a couple challenges to overcome. One is range. It takes a lot of fuel to make something go really fast. A NERVA engine is for sure going to be bulkier than current engines, but it has basically unlimited fuel once it gets going. You could launch them from a thousand miles away, if you wanted. So that's definitely a trade-off worth considering.

Another is efficiency versus detection. Such missiles are at their fastest at high altitudes. But they're also much easier to detect up there. The ideal would be a missile that flies close to the ground (or water), and is also as fast as possible. An engine like this could potentially make that happen.

As MAD doctrine evolved, something like PLUTO wouldn't really make sense. You get the same results with less hassle and less collateral damage, by launching multiple warheads from a conventional ICBM. I'm sure Russia feels the same way.

On the other hand, as a way to challenge US sea power without having to build a commensurate navy and air force, something like this has a lot of potential.
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