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Fly the Fissionable Skies

Now, I’m a big proponent of nuclear power, but even I think that this is a really, really bad idea:

In an interview with The Times, Professor Poll said: “We need to be looking for a solution to aviation emissions which will allow flying to continue in perpetuity with zero impact on the environment.

“We need a design which is not kerosene-powered, and I think nuclear-powered aeroplanes are the answer beyond 2050. The idea was proved 50 years ago, but I accept it would take about 30 years to persuade the public of the need to fly on them.”

Professor Poll said the big challenge would be to demonstrate that passengers and crew could be safely shielded from the reactors.

“It’s done on nuclear submarines and could be achieved on aircraft by locating the reactors with the engines out on the wings,” he said.

“The risk of reactors cracking open in a crash could be reduced by jettisoning them before impact and bringing them down with parachutes.” [?!?!?!?!?!? – ed.]

He said that, in the worst-case scenario, if the armour plating around the reactor was pierced there would be a risk of radioactive contamination over a few square miles.

Hey, no big deal, right? Never mind that most airliner crashes seem to happen at or near airports during takeoff or landing, or that most airports are located in or very close to densely populated areas.

I think the part about needing a “big research programme” is at the heart of this. It’s a ridiculous idea, but wrapping it up in “global warming” might get the guys who thought it up a big bucket of government moolah to play around with for a few years. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, since that seems to be the M.O. of a lot of environmentalism-associated research, it’s just a little unusual to see such an absurd and blatant case of it.

4 comments to Fly the Fissionable Skies

  • Oh, come on, quit being a baby. What’s the worst that could happen? 😉

  • Hmm…how about: Payne Stewart meets Project Pluto?

    Come to think of it, that would be a great plot for a cheeseball SciFi Channel Original movie.

  • I heard that the Air Force effort to build a nuclear-powered bomber were impacted by the recruiting efforts for pilots beyond child-bearing age. I never realized how far along things had gotten:

  • space case

    Likewise, I too have always been a fan of nuclear power. The idea of powering transport vehicles with other than hydrocarbons is appealing for several reasons which will not be enumerated here. Solar, Wind, Geo-thermal, BAH! Those others can’t even compete (without taxpayer subsidies) for powering the nations electrical grid. The only thing with enough energy density for transportation purposes (ships, trucks, trains, aircraft, and yes rockets) is nuclear. Once perfected the duration of flights could be significantly increased. (Recall the B-52 bomber CAP flights 24-7?) A self contained sodium reactor (located behind a shield in the tail section of the craft) would heat a working (non-radioactive)fluid that in turn would power the aircraft engines. Take-off and initial climbout could be assisted with RATOs (or turbofans)if necessary. Cruise duration would be limited only by human factors, or practicaly unlimited if used in a UAV platform.