Thursday, June 9, 2011
"Profac, PRopulsive Fluid ACcumulator, was described by its inventor, Sterge Demetriades, in the pages of the British Interplanetary Society's Journal as long ago as 1959. In this concept, a nuclear electric vehicle would orbit in the Earth's atmosphere - only 75 miles (120km) up - scooping up the rarefied air, separating out the oxygen and using the residual nitrogen in an electric propulsion thruster to make up the drag losses caused by the reaction of the tenuous atmosphere on the vehicle. A 10Mw reactor could provide enough oxygen every 20-30 days to launch 15 tons of payload into lunar orbit for the cost of a single Space Shuttle launch. On paper, Profac wins over all other proposed nuclear transport systems simply because it does not have to move the huge mass of the nuclear reactor to and from the Moon with each payload launch. With a system like this the cost of putting cargo on the Moon might approach the $54/lb ($1,000/kg) mark by the year 2000."