It would be possible to start this article the usual passage about how science fiction writers put forward bold ideas, and scientists later implement them. It is possible, but no desire to write cliches. It is better to remember that the modern rocket engines, solid and liquid, have more than unsatisfactory properties for flights to the relatively far distance. Print the cargo into orbit they allow to deliver something to the moon — also, although such a flight costs more expensive. But to go to Mars with such engines are not easy. Give them the fuel and oxidizer in the appropriate amounts. And these volumes are directly proportional to the distance that must be overcome.
The candidacy of a conventional chemical rocket engine — electric engines, plasma and nuclear. Of all the other engines to the stage of development of the motor has reached only one system — nuclear (NRE). In the Russian Union and the United States in the 50 years of the last century, work began on the creation of nuclear rocket engines. Americans have studied both options such propulsion: jet and pulse. First concept involves heating of the body with the help of a nuclear reactor with the next release of the nozzles. Imulsny NRE, in turn, drives gallaktichesky apparatus due to the small number of successive explosions of nuclear fuel.
Also in the U.S. was invented by the project "Orion", which connected inside both versions of the NRE. Made it was followed by this: from the tail of the ship thrown small nukes capacity of about 100 tons of TNT. Right behind them were shot iron discs. At a distance from the ship carried undermining the charge, the disk is evaporated, and the substance is emitted in different directions. Part of it fell into a reinforced tail of the ship and moved it forward. A small premium to the thrust was to give the evaporation plate, receiving the blows. Unit price for such flight was supposed to be all of the then 150 dollars per kilogram of payload.
It has even come to trial: Experience has shown that movement through successive pulses can be as creating a stern plate of sufficient strength. But the project "Orion" was closed in 1965 as unpromising. Yet, this is still the only existing concept that may allow for the expedition at least in the solar system.
Prior to the construction of the prototype could be reached only by reactive NRE. It was the Russian RD-0410, and the South American NERVA. They worked on the same principle: a "normal" nuclear reactor heats the working fluid, which is due to the release of the nozzles and makes the cravings. Both engines working body was watery hydrogen but Russian as auxiliary heptane was used.
Rod RD-0410 was 3.5 tons, NERVA gave almost 34, but had a huge and dimensions: 43.7 meters long and 10.5 in diameter compared to 3.5 and 1.6 meters, respectively, in Russian engine. With all of this South American engine lost three times by Russian resource — RD-0410 can operate an hour.
But both engines, despite the promise, too, left the world and do not fly. The main reason for the closure of both projects (NERVA in the middle of the 70's, the RD-0410 in 1985) — the means. Properties of chemical engines worse than nuclear, but the cost of the 1st start with the ship at the NRE similar payload can be 8-12 times more than the same run of "Union" with LRE. And that's without taking into account all the costs necessary to bring the nuclear engines to suitability for practical use.
Decommissioning of the "cheap" Space Shuttle and the absence in the near future revolutionary breakthroughs in technology gallakticheskoy asks for new solutions. In April of this year, the then head of Roscosmos Perminov said the intention to create and put into operation a brand new yard. Specifically, it is, according to the views of Roscosmos, should radically do better "environment" in the whole world astronautics. Now it became clear who should become a regular Astronautics revolutionaries: the development of NRE will FSUE "Keldysh Research Center." General Director A. Koroteev already pleased the public news that the preliminary design gallakticheskogo ship under the new yard will be ready as early as next year. The draft motor should be ready by 2019, and tests are planned for 2025 year.
The complex has received the title of TEM — transport and energy module. It will be nuclear reactor with a gas cooling. In particular mover until determine: either it will be a reactive slider like the RD-0410, or e-rocket engine (ERE). But while the latter type anywhere in the world en masse does not apply: they were equipped with only three gallakticheskih machine. But in favor ERE states that from the reactor can be fed not only slider, yes and a lot of other units or general use whole TEM as gallakticheskuyu power station.