Last week it was Orion. This week it’s Project Pluto which began in 1957.
The Nuclear Ramjet was supposed to power a gigantic cruse missile that could loiter around the ocean for months.
The principle behind the nuclear ramjet was relatively simple: motion of the vehicle pushed air in through the front of the vehicle (ram effect), a nuclear reactor heated the air, and then the hot air expanded at high speed out through a nozzle at the back, providing thrust.
On May 14, 1961, the world’s first nuclear ramjet engine, “Tory-IIA,” mounted on a railroad car, roared to life for just a few seconds. Three years later, “Tory-IIC” was run for five minutes at full power, producing 513 megawatts and the equivalent of over 35,000 pounds force (156 kN) thrust.
Ah the 50’s… The days when anything was possible.