PM-3A Design and Construction: Rapid Pace to Fulfill a Need

Between January 1 and March 1, 1962, the plant was assembled by a team of contractors and military technicians. On March 4, 1962, the plant reached initial criticality. The U. S. Navy began intensive involvement in Antarctic research missions during 1955 in preparation for the International Geophysical Year. The Department of Defense assigned the Navy […]

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Letter from the Editor: RTGs, Batteries That Last and Last

It is almost as if NASA, ever cognizant of the need for taxpayer support of its programs, put this useful device “in the closet”, using it when necessary but maintaining an unofficial policy that technical details were best kept from public view.This issue was inspired by a request from one of our Internet readers for […]

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Nuclear Batteries: Tools for Space Science

The Apollo missions to the moon are famous for heroic astronauts, exciting first steps and incredible pictures that fired the imaginations of a whole generation of scientists, engineers and school children. Mixed in along with the hoopla about sending men into space on huge, fire spewing rockets, however, was some serious science. Each time the […]

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Earth Bound RTG Systems: Uses Closer to Home

Tiny, milliwatt capacity RTGs found a home inside the chests of middle aged people in countries like France, Russia and even the United States. These devices – about the same size as a AA battery – were designed to power cardiac pacemakers. Not all of the RTGs that have been produced have been designed for […]

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RTG Heat Sources: Two Proven Materials

Strontium is not associated with nuclear weapons and has never been called the most deadly element known to man. There is a precedence in the United States for widely licensing small quantities of sealed Sr-90; it is used in some aircraft ice detection systems.Essentially all RTGs that have been produced have been designed for long […]

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Sources for Atomic Energy Insights September 1996 (RTGs)

Bennett, G. L. et al “Status Report on Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators using Silicon Germanium Thermoelectric Elements”, paper presented at the 29th Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference, Monterey CA, 1994. AIAA-94-4127-CP Kelly, E C. and Klee, P. “Cassini RTGs – Small Scale Module Tests”, paper presented at the 29th Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference, Monterey CA, […]

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Cassini: Near Term Use of RTGs

The only planned use of RTGs in the US space program in the near term is the unmanned, 1997 Cassini mission to explore Saturn. The Cassini spacecraft will be powered by three General Purpose Heat Source Radioisotope Thermal Generators (GPHS RTGs) each designed to provide 276 W of electrical power at the beginning of the […]

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Sources for Atomic Energy Insights August 1996 (Power Barges)

Sources for Atomic Energy Insights August 1996 (Power Barges) Simpson, John Nuclear Power from Underseas to Outer Space, American Nuclear Society, La Grange Park, IL 1995. Valenti, Michael Power Plants to Go, Mechanical Engineering, May 1996. Raytheon and Westinghouse Consortium Awarded 382 Million for Pakistani Power Project, Press Release dated April 22, 1996. Floating N-Plants: […]

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First Nuclear Power Barge: Pioneer Barge Built in America

The Army Nuclear Power program recognized the potential benefits of putting a nuclear power plant on a water mobile platform in the early 1960s. In January, 1963, construction began on the Sturgis, a World War II vintage Liberty ship hull modified to accept installation of a 10,000 kilowatt pressurized water nuclear steam plant. Designated the […]

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New Nuclear Power Barges: Russians Build on Ice Breaker Lead

The northern coast of Russia is an area endowed with rich natural resources and vast mineral wealth but burdened with a limited infrastructure. Because of the extremely cold winters, transportation is difficult and infrequent. During the Soviet era, finding workers to exploit the riches was not difficult; they had little choice in the matter. Once […]

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