Transport and Energy Module: Russia’s new NEP Tug

Hello, and welcome back to Beyond NERVA! Today’s blog post is a special one, spurred on by the announcement recently about the Transport and Energy Module, Russia’s new nuclear electric space tug! Because of the extra post, the next post on liquid fueled NTRs will come out on Monday or Tuesday next week. This is […]

Topaz International part II: The Transition to Collaboration

Hello, and welcome back to Beyond NERVA! Before we begin, I would like to announce that our Patreon page, at, is live! This blog consumes a considerable amount of my time, and being able to pay my bills is of critical importance to me. If you are able to support me, please consider doing […]

Topaz International part 1: ENISY, the Soviet Years

Hello, and welcome back to Beyond NERVA! Today, we’re going to return to our discussion of fission power plants, and look at a program that was unique in the history of astronuclear engineering: a Soviet-designed and -built reactor design that was purchased and mostly flight-qualified by the US for an American lunar base. This was […]

SNAP-50: The Last of the SNAP Reactors

Hello, and welcome to Beyond NERVA, for our first blog post of the year! Today, we reach the end of the reactor portion of the SNAP program. A combination of the holidays and personal circumstances prevented me from finishing this post as early as I would have liked to, but it’s finally here! Check the […]

US Astro-nuclear History part 2: SNAP-8, NASA’s Space Station Power Supply

Hello, and welcome back to Beyond NERVA! As some of you may have noticed, the website has moved! Yes, we’re now at! I’m working on updating the webpage, and am getting the pieces together for a major website redesign (still a ways off, but lots of the pieces are starting to fall into place) […]

History of US Astronuclear Reactors part 1: SNAP-2 and 10A

Hello, and welcome to Beyond NERVA! Today we’re going to look at the program that birthed the first astronuclear reactor to go into orbit, although the extent of the program far exceeds the flight record of a single launch. Before we get into that, I have a minor administrative announcement that will develop into major […]

Nuclear Electric Propulsion History Part 1: The Soviet Astronuclear Program

Hello, and welcome back to Beyond NERVA, where we’re getting back into issues directly related to nuclear power in space, rather than how that power is used (as we’ve examined in our last three blog posts on electric propulsion)! However, the new Electric Propulsion page is up on the website, including a summary of all […]

Fission Power Systems: High-Powered, Reliable Electricity in Space

Hello, and welcome back to the Beyond NERVA blog! Before we get started on today’s blog post, it has come to my attention that many people, even regulars to this blog, have been missing out on a lot of the content available here at BN. While the blog is a major focus of Beyond NERVA, […]

Carbides: Nuclear Thermal Fuels of the Past and Future

Hello, and welcome to Beyond NERVA! Today, we’re looking at a different kind of fuel element than the ones we’ve been examining so far on this blog, one that promises higher operation temperatures and therefore more efficient NTRs: carbide fuel elements. We’ll also look at a few different options for NTR designs using carbide fuels: […]

NTR Hot Fire Testing Part I: Rover and NERVA Testing

Hello, and welcome back to Beyond NERVA, where today we are looking at ground testing of nuclear rockets. This is the first of two posts on ground testing NTRs, focusing on the testing methods used during Project ROVER, including a look at the zero power testing and assembly tests carried out at Los Alamos Scientific […]