Next Generation Radioisotopes Can Power Ultrafast Space Missions Up to 220,000 MPH

USNC-Tech envisions adapting EmberCore for an electric propulsion system that could propel a spacecraft to extremely high speeds. “The spacecraft architecture is capable of incredible delta-V on the order of 50-100 km/s,” USNC-Tech’s Christopher Morrison says in the company’s proposal. That would translate to 110,000 to 220,000 mph.

Cobalt-60 gives 17 watts per gram. A kilogram of Cobalt-60 would give 17 kilowatts per kilogram. The medical isotope industry produces 100 kilowatts of Cobalt-60.

USNC needs to mass produce the radioisotopes. The fast decaying, short halflife isotopes can have more power for shorter months or year instead of decades. USNC can also use multiple different isotopes. A first stage could use high-power shorter life materials and a second endurance stage could use lower-power long life materials to power instruments for decades.

They can have 20 kilogram systems that could still reach 85 km/second. The new higher density nuclear power sources are combined with ion drives for better performance.

USNC-tech can choose different isotopes for adjustable radiothermal energy production.

9 thoughts on “Next Generation Radioisotopes Can Power Ultrafast Space Missions Up to 220,000 MPH”

  1. Nothing is easy! Our current technology is outdated . Too reach other planets in a timely matters, we have to think outside the box.

  2. More space propulsion news. But will any of these propellentless propulsion schemes work?

    “McCulloch is working with two other teams planning to launch cubesats with propellentless thrusters, one of them with connections to NASA.

    There is also DARPA, who commissioned McCulloch’s study. The agency are no longer working directly with McCulloch but have launched a program called Otter, to demonstrate “ability to maneuver without regret,” according to budget documents.”


  3. The radioisotopes are expensive to make. It would be much cheaper to make small nuclear reactors. The fuel is only mildly radioactive until the reactor is activated.

  4. Well then have a program in place to recover lost material. We don’t want to have a society riven with fears over ‘what if’ while simultaneously engaging in all sort of social experimens and ridiculing the nay sayers.

    • The encapsulation and shielding are going to both be robust in every case. Also the explosion of a rocket on launch is often a “softer” explosion than say actual chemical explosives.
      For on the pad, or early launch failure you could design some sort of safe ejection and recovery capsule.
      Further most of those failures you see after launch are often detonated by the launch controllers to prevent uncontrolled landings of the wreckage mass in areas that would be deemed undesirable.
      Failure to reach orbit, yes that would be problem. Uncontrolled re-entry = Problem.
      However, this can often be mitigated by reducing, or limiting the total mass per mission of the isotope in question. That way the Cobalt 60 is sufficiently diluted to be undetectable.
      It could be difficult in terms of timing and annoying to put the mass together once in orbit. However, once you are there then you can continue as planned, and ‘may’ not need as much shielding as you can use distance from the craft and minimize time of exposure.

    • Ugh.
      This has been addressed NUMEROUS times. Basically, it can be carried up in a destruction proof container. And yes, they have tested these with drops as well as blowing them up and they stay sealed.

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