Nuclear-powered Cruise Missile Likely Source of Russian Explosion

A new russian nuclear-powered cruise missile was likely the source of an explosion in northern Russia last week that killed 7 people.

There was increased levels of radiation had been detected in areas near the site of last week’s explosion.

Called the 9M730 Burevestnik by Russia and the SSC-X-9 Skyfall by NATO, the cruise missile features a small nuclear-powered engine that enables it to fly long distances and conceivably allows it to circumvent missile defense systems. In March 2018, Russian President Putin bragged in a two-hour speech about new ICBM missiles, silent submarines and a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

Last week, an explosion occurred in Nyonoksa, a Dvina Bay port not far from the shipbuilding town of Severodvinsk, at a naval site that has been used for decades to test missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). In the hours that followed, city emergency officials in Severodvinsk reported a spike in radiation levels. The radition levels were 20 times higher than normal.

There are reports of panic buying of iodine drops in Severodvinsk. Emergency officials reported a spike in background radiation. The White Sea bay where both the shipbuilding port and the regional capital, Arkhangelsk, are located has been ordered closed for swimming and fishing because of the presence of toxic rocket fuel.

Other Russian Military Accidents in the Last 6 Weeks

Last month, there was an accident involving Russia’s Northern Fleet. A secretive surveillance submarine known informally as the Losharik suffered a catastrophic accident on July 2 while conducting tests in the Barents Sea. In all, 14 crew members were killed. Officials have released scant details about the sub, which is based at the Kola Peninsula port of Severomorsk, and what exactly occurred during the fire.

Earlier this week, a series of massive explosions destroyed an arms cache in Siberia, sending blast waves and plumes of black smoke into the atmosphere, and devastating nearby settlements.

128 thoughts on “Nuclear-powered Cruise Missile Likely Source of Russian Explosion”

  1. If you have a plane – cruise missile – that can stay in the air for months, you don’t need a carrier.

  2. Nothing gets passed in Congress that will not make money for some special interest or another. Anything else talked about is just talk.
    The only aspects of the Green thing that would pass would be stuff like building projects where it is stipulated that union slackers do all the work.
    Carbon tax makes no one with money to give to campaigns happy.

  3. I have never argued with you about nuclear air breathing propulsion; however, in the context of nuclear thermal rocket propulsion or doped plasma propulsion, I may have explained that you are neither an aerodynamicist nor a plasma physicist, while I am both, when you tried to act like you can handwave the results of what would be bunch of multi specie multi physics simulations of hypersonic numerical NS solutions on novel geometries.

  4. Nah – look how people have reacted to Musk’s idea of nuking Mars. Gotta protect hypothetical bacteria from humanity and especially Deadly Radioactivity.

  5. Given that pretty much all of the Dem candidates claim to support the Green New Deal, and that the Dems have a fair shot at tossing Trump (after 4 years continuous campaigning to keep their base angry), I suspect the things you list aren’t going to happen.

    Maybe we’d see a compromise like replacing 1 old nuke plant with 1 new and safer one on the same site, maybe with power upgrades.

    The big presses and magnesium alloy are interesting. I wonder if Elon Musk might pick that up – sounds like his sort of thing, and they might useful for SpaceX?

  6. I was referring to the plot of “committing extortion with nukes”. Not including the detail that they were Russian in origin.

  7. Yeah, I’ve actually got zero idea about buying illegal drugs.
    I couldn’t become an addict even if I wanted to.

  8. And that Japanese accident had the same outcome for its operators as the Russian accident.

    Don’t play with HEU.

  9. “LOL” the US did this in the 1950s. Project Pluto which at least would hit mach 3.

    It is a retro doomsday weapon.

  10. Using a fluid and a heat exchanger would further reduce turbine inlet temperature, which is already 1000C short of what combustion turbine achieves. Additionally, a liquid cooled loop quadruples the complexity and weight while unlikely to achieve the small hydraulic diameter easily attained with a core made of wires, or granules, or honeycomb…

    Shoving air through a screaming, luminously hot, small hydraulic diameter ceramic or cermet core is the only way to go here, while it remains a completely asinine idea. To me it is like building a modern cargo ship powered by a 50 psig steam engine. The ‘nuclear fog’ makes it hard for people to see that this is a low tech heater.

    Also there isn’t a reactor ever been designed with a peaking factor less than about 1.5; certainly not a small one like this. If you look at the thing as a black box, you see a temperature increase of 1000C. That 1000C is the average from the confluence of all the streamlines through the core…some of those streamlines will have 150% of the heat rate and THAT is where the core erodes (burns-out).

    It’s all showstopper. I remember arguing with you about this about 18 months ago. You can believe what you want. I look at this cruise missile as asinine. Then again I also feel that the NERVA series and any future derivatives are also idiotic – even if my friends are getting paid to work on it.

  11. With an indirect air cycle. You use a heat exchanger. Heat convection isn’t as efficient but it’s not a showstopper. I mean it is if you want Mach 5 but so is everything. These things are never going Mach 5, ever.

  12. I know this is a joke but in all seriousness, rich people are actually fairly elitist about getting their coke from social peers. They usually refuse to sink to the level of street dealers.

  13. I’m not sure I am willing to believe Russia handed them warheads… I’m willing to believe they helped in more peripheral ways — looked the other way when they bought purification or refinement technology, maybe helped them covertly access raw material. But an entire warhead? Incredibly high risk, politically. The most profound and obvious advancement I’m reasonably sure they got is Russia helped facilitate the purchase of liquid rocket motor designs from Ukrainian firms against international arms regulations. To be honest I was also thinking more about nuclear terrorism.

  14. A handful of Democrats are onboard with punishing motorists for living their lives, slamming them with high fuel prices/chaotic fuel prices. I highly doubt their message will carry if they win.

    More probable will be expanding rebates on electric cars, reinstating the fuel efficiency agreement Obama set up, and some infrastructure building program…we will never even notice…because they are just paying absurd prices for nothing, like Obama’s stimulus fails. One of the stated goals is to help the unions. That is herding using wolves instead of sheepdogs.

    The polarity of this country is going nuts. Republicans inventing terrifying BS scenarios if Democrats win.

    Down with both parties! Down with the media for stoking all this BS!

    We need government willing to actually get stuff built and the most for their dollar. And I mean new stuff, no redoing the old. We need change in infrastructure not a buff and polish.

    And we need government investment in building large advanced fast 3D printers. And more and larger giant presses:

    I would make presses capable of making parts 50′ x 100′, 25′ of travel. Like the Germans that we stole the 2 original presses from, we should be pressing magnesium, though with silicon carbide nanocrystals:

    And we need more highway lanes, new well planned cities and at least 100 more LARGE nuclear power plants.

  15. Wow – imagine how much time you could have saved yourself by just reading the rest of that sentence, in which I mentioned a likely extension of the oil export ban to refined oil products…

    Or imagine if you’d read the 2nd paragraph, in which I noted that these are likely outcomes of the Dems getting power in 2020 elections, not suggestions for what we should do as a nation…

  16. A ban on selling crude abroad? Well, then we will sell oil processed in some way. One way or another, they will sell it when we pump more than we use…or the price will collapse. And they will be very irate if oil costs much more overseas…and they can’t sell it.
    Can’t see how anyone would be happy except the US motorist…but they would be the last people US government would give a hoot about.
    No, we need to export oil and at the tune of 10 million barrels a day, so we can flip the trade deficit to a trade surplus.
    I think we can do this by pumping 6 million more barrels a day, and by Reducing consumption (without less transport) by 5 million barrels a day.
    Currently, we are importing about 1.1 million barrels a day (average since June 1):
    That reduction can be achieved by moving freight by rail whenever possible, tripling the gas guzzler tax and expanding the vehicles it is applicable to all but undebatably commercial vehicles (moving vans, buses, box trucks, garbage trucks, dump trucks, ambulances, fire trucks, cement mixers, and large flatbed trucks, etc.), adding more lanes, adding tunnels, bridges, smart stoplights, requiring efficient braking regeneration, smother roads, walking tunnels/bridges, natural gas pickups, incentivize natural gas use in other trucks, rolling resistance standards for all road legal tires, black boxes for all new vehicles that record fuel efficiency report wirelessly…

  17. With respect, it never entered the Fifties. The difference between rural and city/university life is to this day ‘shocking’.

    it is a social-theory experiment right next to a larger and similar one in China. Not an experiment in freedom, but control.

    lived there in the ’90’s. ✌

  18. If you want to be really paranoid…
    One group that has vast resources, don’t particularly get upset if the Russian military has problems, and would really, really like everyone to be distracted right now, is China.

  19. Peter Turchin argues that societies cycle between low and high levels of inequality every couple of centuries, and that claims like Picketty’s are very short sighted.

    Of course Turchin claims that inequality is periodically reduced via mass depopulation (war, famine, plague, (contraception??)) so that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.

  20. I personally have a lower debt that either Russia or the USA.

    Doesn’t mean I’m richer than either. (Except in good looks, obviously.)

  21. NK is a state that has failed. Failed to meet what 2019 AD considers to be the minimum acceptable standards for a nation. (1019 would have had different standards.)

    But a “failed state” is generally used to mean a bunch of implied failures particularly about the central government not having control over much of the nominal territory, roaming gangs in the outer areas, collapsing government control over the military etc.

    NK does not meet these particular implied definitions of the modern use of the word “Failed state”

  22. The derating of LPG vehicles was because a multipoint EFI petrol engine would be converted to what was effectively a single barrel carburettor for LPG.

    Modern multipoint injection of LPG means the derating is 5% or so at worst. It can be a power up if the higher octane rating of LPG is exploited to allow more advanced timing, higher compression or more turbo boost (but now you’re moving beyond a base cheap conversion).

    Natural gas on the other hand is definitely a drop in power. But NG is super cheap.

  23. I am suggesting buying old ones especially ones where the engine or transmission is basically gone.
    Generally, these get bought up and revived if they are extended cab or quad cab. And we are never rid of them.
    The problem with converting trucks by the millions is that there would be a strong backlash. The trucks would not have the horsepower, and would still have very poor efficiency…unless you put in new engines designed to be efficient and strong. The automakers would have a cow, as they would not be able to sell as many trucks.
    Better to partially fund the development of efficient regenerative natural gas powertrains. The engines will need more displacment to make the same horsepower.
    I also think we need to build some big titanium mills and foundries and produce millions of tons of titanium for use in our vehicles of all types. Keep the titanium here. We need titanium in buses, cars, trucks, trains, aircraft, and boats. Buses especially, as the aluminum buses hold up very poorly in accidents.

  24. I think you misunderstand the whole point. We need to become a major oil exporter to more directly address the trade deficit. Producing more is fine, but we need more efficient transportation. That means dealing with pickups.
    I am not sure how you get “moral travesty” out of what I said. I blame the government and automakers for poor efficiency. I also think buyers are duped by the fuel efficiency sticker whose numbers bear little resemblance to reality. People who live in more rural areas make reasonable use of pickups, most of the time as most roads are gravel and dirt. But most Americans live in cities (14% Rural).
    I think the automakers have failed to make any manly durable vehicles except pickups and jeeps. Moronic failure of imagination. We could have vehicle options that are light, sturdy, with lots of room, based on something like a dune buggy. Something you can hit against a wall a few times and it is just minor cosmetic grizzle. Such a vehicle could easily be engineered to get 40 mpg real world, and still get you anywhere reliably in rural America. They need to assume the driver is Macho, 6’6″ 330 lb, clumsy, with a bad back…because there is a lot of that.

    Abandoning Obama’s fuel efficiency trajectory deal with the automakers was profound idiocy, if one is even slightly interested in the trade deficit.

  25. Not accurate, Russia has foreign debt that is 27% of GDP. Problem is Russia has a GDP smaller than California. They have lowish overall debt because no one will lend them money after they bankrupted in the 90s. So, they have only oil revenue and no borrowing power, makes it hard to build industry or get your economy out of a jam. US has debt, but that is because it can pay it. Also, the US owes most of its money to itself, Social Security and US private industry holds the majority of US government debt. US foreign debt is about 28% of GDP. Russia has an annual budget the equivalent of the state of NY.

  26. The “shock wave” depends on rake angle, actually. 

    Until the “transsonic era” (way before the missile era), airplane designers went for classical wind-tunnel proven rounded-leading-edge airfoils. The wind-tunnel studies showed that while there definitely was a relationship between the roundy-ness of the airfoil and the inverse velocity, even when winds approached the speed of sound (Mach 1), rounded-and-more sleek designs were clearly the efficient winner. Efficient, and for some parts of the flight envelop, more critically controllable. 

    As over Mach 1 developed, sharp edges and more severly swept back designs were winning.  

    It was learned that for ANY Mach number, one theoretically could engineer an airfoil (or missile envelope) that wouldn’t produce a sonic boom. 

    How about that!

    The higher the Mach number, the more itsy-bitsy bumps and less bitsy intentional protrusions (think winglets, canards, azimuthal control surfaces) became critical. Moreover, as “the thing” got longer and thinner it also started to suffer from “chaotic pencil instabilities”. 

    Namely, as airstream speed increases, “laminar flow” breaks up, causing turbulent flow; in turn, the longer-thinner cross section is LESS able to withstand the increasingly powerful chaotic vibrations. Axial oscillations are amplified causing airframe breakup at intended top speed. 

    Anyway… just stuff to stick in the theory pipe. 

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  27. Ah, umm… hmmm… 

    Lower the carbon fraction of the oily fuels, but also to lower the energy intensity, to mitigate “waste”. 

    With PICKUP TRUCKS, your thesis seems to be “pickup trucks are bulky, heavy, largely unnecessary, consume high quantities of gasoline/diesel per mile/kilometer, and are a moral travesty” (I think its what you meant). 

    Well, basically you are right except for the moral position.

    Pickups are bulky. Pickups are heavy … most of the mid-to-large from 3,000–4,500. Mine certainly does (Silverado ‘1500’ class, curbside 3,150 kg without me aboard).

    However, I’m not stealing gasoline from your pocket, am I? I pay full ticket for it and dear it is, in Kalifornia. Over eighty bucks for a tank. Dear.

    Yet, our pickup does what we bought it for, MOST of the time: it hauls bales of goat hay; junk to the dumps; furniture for our friend’s EBay resale effots. I move long lumber, plywood and sheetrock to fix house, ranch, and build furniture. We took The Beast to Canada just last 3 weeks, largely because the extra $250 in gasoline offset so much hotel costs, due to The Beast being FULL UP with camping equipment. 

    It was lovely. 

    BUT NO… we do NOT drive it willy-nilly to the store, or to cart kids around (except for when-the-other-car is about). It serves its purpose nearly singularly. 

    That is the point.
    Not every pickup owner is a “sinner”.
    Some are, some aren’t. 

    Its just HARD to tell who is, and who ain’t.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  28. Advising against new arms race? Rather advising against taking part in that race. And falling behind. Pure idiocy.

    Russia will develop and field new nuclear weapons no matter what USA will do.
    Considering Putin’s history of not respecting treaties (eg. Crimea, Donbass) any disarmament negotiations are futile effort.

    Do yourself a favour and read ‘It takes one to tango’ by lt. gen. Edward Rowny. That will give you idea how nuclear disarmament negotiations with USSR looked like. It would be no different nowadays, save for one thing – USSR adhered to treaties it signed. Putin won’t.

  29. Wishful thinking, Tom. Oil prices will continue to be upheld (i.e. not collapse) due to three factors. 

    № 1: unabated rapidly-developing-nation demand. 

    № 2: finite present-and-horizon well delivery rates. 

    № 3: robust international commodity trading of the crude, coupled to efficient shipping and highly optimized refining. 

    In other words, tho’ electric cars and other vehicles look to be quite attractive replacements for gasoline/diesel powered vehicular energy storage, the oil-is-retiring-conclusion is far from obvious once one digs into the numbers.

    E-vehicles continue to be hobbled by the CHARGE RATE and both direct (purchase) and running cost of SUFFICIENT RANGE. 

    For the larger, heavier vehicles (pickups at the low end, to in-town delivery trucks, to large intercity box trucks, to large 18-to–24 wheelers), the pair of gotchas is a formidable practical challenge to overcome. 

    Personally, I think the whole e-vehicle sector is waiting for a breakthrough to attain 1+ kWh/kg and $50/kWh battery tech. And “25 c” charge rates. The combo then truly addresses can-they-really-compete at every vehicle mass from 2 seaters to 24 wheeler transcontinental freighters. 

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  30. I know.

    I was taken aback (just having gotten ‘home’ from a 25 day road cruise from California to Canada via Oregon and Washington, thru Idaho and Montana on the way back) by the price disparity between gasoline and LPG. Both of which, burned, have similar (within 30%) “per gallon” fuel heating value. 

    I regularly saw LPG — retail — for less than $1.50/gallon. Everywhere except California, gasoline was in the $2.80-$3.40 range. In Kali, its above $3.80 in most stations, except the stinky-gas vendors. 

    Even derated by 25% … $1.50 / (1.0 – 0.25) = $2.00 per gallon of equivalent gasoline motor fuel. Nice. I’m pretty certain that $1.50 isn’t even all that low, either. The LPG vending cartel is much tighter than the gasoline-and-diesel one. 

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  31. Mmm… of note… before submitting, “anti-Russian” was worded as “National Security Agency”. I thought it wiser to abstract as it ended up. You definitely are right though: there are several actors who have keen interest in besmirching Russia’s forward military advances. 

    My thought — given some ahem, small, ahem experience in the nuclear field — is that the high temperatures used in the purported nuclear jet engine could easily delaminate the nominally safe-at–1,500°K core materials, causing bits to dislodge, blocking exhaust channels, causing very rapid local overheating, snowballing (somehow that seems inappropriate) to core vaporization, without any possibility of being able to control it. 

    Thus, it all could be chalked up as “engineering shortcomings”. 

    The Russians (and lets be honest, the Americans, British, Chinese, and all the rest) have a long history of unexpected engineering shortcomings. 

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  32. “don’t actually allow direct contact between the radioactive material and the exhaust”

    How you figure that? Effectively convecting heat to air at turbojet-like mass flow rates necessitates an exquisitely small hydraulic diameter in the core…. IOW, direct contact between fuel and exhaust.

    The only question is: how fast does fuel erosion proceed?

  33. Off all the nuclear weapon related incidents where a warhead has been damaged (or gone) – there was never a nuclear explosion. However, both the propellent and/or implosion lenses detonation has caused core destruction with huge radiation increase in the area. 2ndaries were mostly recovered. Seismic activity detection is normal. Can be as large as 20 tons of TNT from the propellent alone. A good reference is the Damascus incident.

  34. Natural gas will likely become more central to US energy, but probably not for vehicles nor export. In fact, the ban on exporting crude oil may be reinstated, along with new restrictions on exporting refined oil fuels and natural gas.

    That and the following assumes the Dems are less complacent and work together better than they did in 2016, and manage to get the Presidency and both houses, so they can carry out their Green agenda.

    Green-energy policy will almost certainly aim to rapidly phase out coal power. A carbon tax may be laid to hold gasoline prices up despite declining oil prices, to keep the electric car trend growing – with revenues probably fed into e-car and renewable subsidies.

    So the electricity supply would be falling while demand (from e-cars) is rising. To avoid brown- and black-outs, a rapid expansion of NG power plants may be accepted as a stop-gap. That would likely be combined with substantial subsidies for renewable energy and battery farms, and a severe crack-down on NG leaks.

    Upshot: collapsing oil prices (US first, later global); coal goes away in the US and Europe and eventually China; natural gas prices are sustained for a while, but long term will be under threat from the massive subsidies to renewable and battery farms. I’m not sure what the impact would be on the economy – but at this point it looks like that is a secondary concern for the Dems.

  35. If the guys advising against a new arms race are ‘useful idiots’, I suppose the people pushing for one must be ‘ useless idiots.’

  36. In Sweden anyone can find out anyone else’s salary – but the person being inquired about will be notified who is enquiring. Sweden is much less unequal than most countries – number 152 on the Gini index. The US is number 35, between Peru and Cameroun. Thomas Picketty’s work, ‘Capital in the 21st Century’, claims that the increased equality from 1945 to 1980 was an aberration, and we’re heading back towards the extreme wealth inequality of Victorian times.

  37. It still needs air. Or at least an atmosphere.

    So it works on Earth. It should (providing they allow for the atmospheric density) work on Mars. But it won’t work in between.

  38. I’m very worried that they announced there was a radiation leak in the first place.
    Why announce that?

    Possibilities that spring to mind:

    • Whatever happened, they were so unsure of the result that they figured this could lead to radiation being detected in other countries regardless of secrecy, and that would be even more embarrassing a la Chernobyl.
    • Russia no longer has control over its own nuclear military personnel.
    • They are trying to cover up something even worse.
    • This is a distraction and they are planning on doing something worse.
  39. No one should be paid more than 50 times the lowest earning employee.

    So you support the idea of outsourcing all low level functions in the company? Interesting.

  40. I know there are people who claim the carrier is obsolete. But there seems to be a whole bunch of naval experts, in Russia, India, China, USA, Britain, France etc. etc. who all disagree.

    The only way to confirm this one way or another is a major war. Which is probably not worth it just to settle a ship design dispute.

  41. Wouldn’t be useful commercially on Earth.

    It would be very useful cruising Mars or Venus or somewhere.

    Anyway, I’m assuming that blowing up wasn’t part of the design intent 😉

    And most of the designs that people have been sketching up don’t actually allow direct contact between the radioactive material and the exhaust. Though of course the Russians might have just dismissed that requirement.

  42. In that case Russia launched a nuclear armed missile. Why? What possible reason would you launch a missile that is, at best, guaranteed to spread radioactive debris when it lands? And presumably it would land in Russian territory because otherwise it is just declaring a nuclear war on someone.

    The nuclear powered missile at least has an explanation as to why it would be launched in the first place.

  43. If they choose an area that the US isn’t really researching, and if it happens to be technically feasible, they could pull off some kind of technological ‘leap-frog’.

    Beamed energy launch might indeed be one such – amenable to brute force (lots of microwave transmitters) combined with good control software (still a Russian strength) and their rocket building abilities.

    Nuclear rockets – assuming this means in-space propulsion (not launch) I don’t currently see a national motivation for Russia to go after this. Maybe if Mars or asteroid missions start to look valuable.

    Single stage to Mars would be wonderful – but even a reusable SSTO for Earth, even if just for crew launch, could be huge. They could grab the DC-X / Delta-Clipper ideas that NASA literally killed, and try to make a go of that.

  44. The russophobic trolls are out in force.

    Skyfall is bleeding edge weapons tech. Accidents will happen as the tech is perfected.

  45. It’s only a war crime if you deploy it. Or maybe if you threaten to do so.

    Otherwise it’s just called “a waste of money”. Or “research”, I suppose, if there are any useful spin-offs.

  46. Not saying it is (because why?) in this photo, but Putin looks photoshopped in! Well, I guess I could think of some reasons why a news org might do it… Not like they haven’t used “illustrative representations” (fakes) in the past.

  47. exactly, while I love how advanced a new Ford class carrier is, technological marvel. That said, all future not-yet-under-construction carriers should be scrapped. Put that money towards more super stealthy subs & Zumwalt destroyers.

  48. There is no price bolstering, possible. The US and Russia are the big producers now. Just a mater of time before oil begins to be exported from the US in large quantities…and natural gas too is likely, as we can’t use all that gas and we are running out of places to put it.
    Russia is not going to slow production either. They are eager to start drilling in the Arctic ocean.

    Right now, and I mean right now, we need to encourage companies to order large natural gas tanker ships. And we need to compel the full-sized pickup makers to sell only natural gas powered pickups. They are the easiest to redesign, as there is plenty of room for tanks underneath. They currently use astronomical amounts of gasoline and oil…more than anything else: ships, trains, cars, semis, aircraft… Look on the table to the right:
    32% of transport energy is mostly just wasted in full-sized pickups. 85% of these are just used to commute. We can’t just take these out of people’s hands who are using them for commuting as these represent a major investment for most people at the ludicrous prices charged. But we can buy many that are for sale and crush them, and require the new ones to be natural gas powered, and ideally require effective regenerative breaking.
    The US should build nuclear power plants so most of the natural gas can be exported.
    Oil power plants in the US need to be banned. Though only Hawaii uses that much.

  49. “…an empire to leach off of”? For most of these republics there was a net drain away from Russia.

    They have talent. They have double the number of engineers we have.

    I think the biggest issue is that they still believe capitalism is thievery. Those who embrace it, often are criminals, because that is the expectation…the belief. And now the experience. They don’t have models of respectable decent entrepreneurs.

    We at least know that they existed at one point. 😉

  50. Russia national debt 17.44% of GDP
    U.S.A national debt 107.79% of GDP and I think that is just Federal debt. States, counties and local governments borrow as well.

    Who is more precarious? Especially with our politicians now addicted to squandering, building at least another trillion in debt every year.

    In good years you are supposed to pay off debts. Borrow when things get bad and you need more employment.

    We are lead by buffoons.

    They have borrowed in our good name 2/3 of everyone’s home in the US to pay gouging military contractors and drug manufacturers. And making sure the rich have tax loopholes and corporations pay less than 6% tax on their profits…so the boards can set their own compensation in the many millions category.

    No one should be paid more than 50 times the lowest earning employee. CEO wants 3 million? You have to pay the janitor’s assistant $60,000.

  51. When a lot of these particle detectors in Europe pull their filters and look, and see what isotopes and products were generated, it will be hard for Russia to lie about what exactly happened and what exactly was released.

  52. You can have firm enough control of the military to contain and squash any military or political uprising, but lack the control to guarantee utility services, social or civic services — in which case you definitely cannot be said to ‘meet basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government’.

  53. This is an angels on the head of a pin conversation. Neither a 100m dish nor a 1MW solar array are going into GEO any time soon.

  54. Given the location, and the earlier reports from Rosatom that it was testing a liquid jet propulsion system, wouldn’t it make more sense if it was a nuclear powered torpedo?

  55. Firm control of a state doesn’t mean that the ‘basic conditions and responsibilities’ are being met.

    Maduro’s in full control (well, arguably) of Venezuela. But it certainly doesn’t seem to be a ‘healthy’ state.

  56. And going at Mach 3+ at 100-200 ft above the ground.

    The shock wave would have been… interesting.

  57. OK – but a nuclear powered cruise missile is likely pretty big- maybe 10m? So for at least one polarization of your transmitted radar you might pick it up 10x more easily?

    Also, maybe you don’t actually need to resolve it – just detect its motion via dopler effect. With sensitive instruments, a 100-1000m reciever might be sufficient – and that need not be a solid dish, given enough signal power.

  58. NERVA was a reactor to heat air and force it through a turbine and compress the hot air out a nozzle for thrust. I think the Russians have created an open nuclear reaction whereby the fission and its heat are exhausted through a nozzle for thrust. Crazy times we live in but hey if the missile is on its way to end life what difference would it make? The fallout signature should be verifiable. Sad day for everyone…….

  59. A failed state is a political body that has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government no longer function properly.

    Not too bright are you, Putin appears to still be in firm control of all he surveys.

  60. The only utility of the aircraft carrier is to scare primitives, otherwise, it’s a floating coffin against any properly equipped foe.

  61. Their biggest problems right now are in production and maintenance, not prototyping; Even if they manage to come up with something impressive, they can’t mass produce it, or keep it working in large numbers.

    I think that’s what is driving their increasing interest in “super-weapons”: They want something they don’t have to mass produce, to have strategic impact.

  62. Yah… except the words “geosynchronous” and “detection” are definitely not in the same lexicon. 

    Remember… as I very often have repeated:

    α (radians) = 1.22λ(m)/D(m) …
    D (m) = 1.22λ / α

    α = size of thing / distance to thing
    ∴ D = 1.22 λ distance / size

    So… working with 

    distance = 35,400,000 m
    size = 1 m
    λ = … um … IR? VIs? millimeter? cm?

    That last bit is the problem. A geosynchronous satellite isn’t likely to have good detection in visible spectrum. Too much background noise. Also not in infrared: too much thermal background. Perhaps millimeter, more likely centimeter band RADAR. Let’s say 1 cm. 

    D = 1.22 × 1 cm ÷ 100 cm/m × 35,400,000 m ÷ 1 m
    D = 431,000 m

    That would need to be the DIAMETER of the geosynchronous satellite receiver … to resolve the 1 meter cruise missile. A bit large. 

    In the mid-IR … say 3.5 µm,

    D = 1.22 × 3.5×10⁻⁶ × 35,400,000 m ÷ 1 m
    D = 151 m

    Better! Yet, still absolutely ginormous. 

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  63. I would think good satellite detection would be as effective or more effective and cheaper.
    Should detect sooner. And sooner is definitely better for these things because you want to destroy that nuclear cruise missile a thousand+ miles from land. Also, you are less likely to have holes in your detection area. 4 or 5 geostationary satellites should be sufficient (but may need some self defense). In either case you need missiles or drones to intercept these cruise missiles.

    It would be nice if we had a method to bring them down without them spreading radiation everywhere.

    Perhaps literally some net made of metal strips that would catch and slow the thing with drag, so it just looses altitude and falls into the ocean. Fire the net in front of it using a drone or missile.

  64. IMO, I see Russia/NATO as pretty stable and unlikely to evolve into a hot conflict. Elsewhere there are natural tensions caused by geography and culture. A war between India and Pakistan seems likely especially since India increasingly seems convinced that it can “win”. A war between Iran and Saudi Arabia seems likely for a variety of reasons one of which is that both need the other’s oil supply to disappear from the market to bolster prices. China is a wildcard.

  65. There was a similar cruise missile under development by the US in the 1960s called the “Big Stick”. Reports were that the ceramic fuel reactor worked well, but controls to “pilot” the thing were a problem. There was an option to drop warheads, and then, with a modified reactor, fly around the enemy country at 100 feet of altitude, or so, spreading fission daughters, and flattening great swaths of land with the shock wave for weeks, or months on end. Truly an indiscriminate war crime with wings.
    It’s only a matter of time before the Russian government is condemned for doing what the US government pioneered by hypocritical US propaganda outlets with 3 letter designations, and MSNBC. Don’t expect MSM coverage to mention the Big Stick!!!

  66. Thing is … Russia continues to allow / invest / encourage / laud its rather formidable science-industrial-military arms-and-production infrastructure. They may not be “catching up”, but they’re also not significantly “falling behind” either.  

    The biggest future problem is as one post-Korean-War wag said, “when they keep making all these new weapons, missiles, aircraft and systems, the likelihood of war-footing escalation increases substantially over time.”

    That’s heavily paraphrased, sorry. Won’t google-find it. I read it in a fine derivative Eisenhower-era book, oh … sheepishly … in the 1960s. Yet, it seems to hold. Timeless sensibility.  

    The net is, tho’ I don’t fear any kind of outright war between Russia and [name-the-defender] country, I do fear of a sizeable, unusual conflict between China, a vassal Chinese state, or India and Pakistan … or some hodge-podge of Mideast states, Israel, yada, yada. … and it all going toward escallation due to entrenched alliances, excess arms needing testing, and that kind of thing.  

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  67. I suspect the missile is launched by injecting reaction mass into the already hot reactor, with the air inlet closed, and reaction mass tank dropped, and inlet opened once ramjet velocity is reached. This could be the “fluid” mentioned in press releases.
    Inlet could be sealed/throttled by movement of the inlet spike/cone which would be movable anyway. This technique would allow the missile to avoid needing a solid rocket assist launch. The reaction mass could be something as simple as distilled water, self pressurized by heat from the reactor.

  68. Could be that the anti-Russian authored crypto-virus with timed-defeat algorithms whacked the high-enriched uranium+plutonium on-board reactor core, mid-test.  Well beyond the µs-scale regime needed to detect and quash such interference, on a test stand. Who knows what players are involved. Hence the hush-hush secrecy. Just saying, GoatGuy ✓

  69. correction — low speed.  

    When a cruise missile hugs the terrain closely enough (which is now achievable with high-resolution multi-imaging sensor 3 axis stereo millisecond-rate algorithms, and totally off-the-shelf GPU chips), without having to have extensive pre-loaded GPS type data, well … slow-and-infinite-range is the winner.  

    Tipped with a suitcase-sized nuke, nuclear powered turbojet, the combination is particularly lethal.  

    Ironically, the best defense against such is to be planted on a flat plane, using unconventional-but-not-technologically taxing longwave multitransmitter radar.  

    7 transmitters, not in a hexagonal pattern, mathematically phase matched, yet at different emission wavelengths, “seeing” an incoming low-and-slow missile is fairly easy.  

    Not so when there are even small hills and rolling valleys.  

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  70. They’re not going to catch up.

    Back when they had an empire to leach off of, they had the resources to compete with the US in a few select areas by bleeding millions of people dry and cutting corners on safety.

    These days they’re too poor for that, and losing the tech chops they used to have. And they just keep cutting more and more corners in an effort to regain their lost glory.

    What’s next? Maybe they’ll try to build an Orion ship, and blow up a city? I wouldn’t put it past them.

  71. Nope. It’s actually a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Russia’s been experimenting with them for the last few years. The general intent is to make a cruise missile with extremely long range and high speed.

  72. IIRC, Pluto was supposed to be able to kill people just by flying over them at low altitude. It was to be like a steerable, continuous neutron bomb.

  73. Much more likely that a nuclear ARMED missile exploded. The Conventional explosives in the missile detonated and spread nuclear material.
    But, since the warhead was not armed, it did not got critical – boom.

    This would be similar to when SAC accidentally dropped a hydrogen bomb on South Carolina in the 1960’s. The conventional explosives exploded but bomb did not go nuclear.

  74. What TASS says is “4-16” times radiation increase.
    What TASS means is “400-1600 times radiation increase in certain areas” …which is normal if plutonium dust is scattered all over the place.
    You have to learn on how to digest communication from official Russian press.

  75. I guess it doesn’t matter if it explodes occasionally in the wrong place since its a missle and they are suppose to explode…

  76. . given the putin claim of unlimited range…. the Russians should be sending this thing to mars instead of plotting to destroy the earth…

  77. MOSCOW, August 13. /TASS/. The level of radiation in Severodvinsk following the August 8 incident at a military test site was 4-16 times above the natural background, the Russian weather watching service Rosgidromet said.

  78. A failed state with nuclear missiles, mind you. Let’s hope they skimp on the maintenance enough that they become inoperable before somebody gets the bright idea to just commit extortion with them.

  79. Brian you forgot to mention recently sank unique and the only dock that could repair the only Russian Aircraft carrier.  The dock while sinking permanently and fatally damaged the carrier itself.  In fact there is no current plans to repair the Carrier so effectively Russian navy no has NO Aircraft Carrier…

  80. What a remarkable non-news story. Something went boom somewhere, radiation levels spiked a mind-boggling several times over background for a few hours, but no one knows really, as everything is either third-hand info or just speculation. And Trump twitted a general concern about the whole thing. Wow. The world has changed.

    What has changed, is the dumbass denial of that weapon that was trending upon its announcement. The supposedly non-existent missile went boom, now the public concerned about radiation, which is evidently non-existent, as no one can measure anything above background. So confusing, eh? 🙂

  81. One of many useful idiots:

    “The United States and Russia seem to be drifting into a new arms race, either out of some bizarre nostalgia or because no one can think of anything better to do. The Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review talks about the return of great-power competition as though that’s an exciting development and calls for a vast modernization of the United States’ nuclear arsenal. Russia is investing billions of rubles in its own modernization, with a myriad of bizarre weapons under development to defeat U.S. missile defenses, including this nuclear-powered cruise missile. And on the sidelines, nitwits like the New York Times’s Bret Stephens are cheering it all on with nonsense like “The U.S. Needs More Nukes.””

  82. Not if they blow up… 😉

    And a nuclear powered cruise missile intended as a deterrent, that will cause radioactive pollution if used, wouldn’t be useful commercially.

  83. Researching nuclear rockets or beamed energy is the only way that Russia is ever going to catch up with SpaceX. Good stuff. Lets hope they produce a single-stage-to-Mars next.

  84. Though… a nuclear jet engine developed for military purposes still probably works just fine for peaceful purposes too.

    After all, the fuel powered jet engines were developed for military purposes in the first place.

  85. Well now it makes sense why the Americans are looking at restarting the NERVA program. Knew it was too good to be true, hoping for a peaceful use of nuclear technology.

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