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Nuclear-Powered Aircraft (1960)

The Winter, 1960 edition of Air Progress magazine featured two nuclear-powered aircaft on its cover. Much like the nuclear-powered car, which was a popular idea among forward-thinking automobile designers of the 1950s, this idea never really took off. (Get it? Took off! TOOK OFF! Nevermind.)

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Reader Comments (14)

I have no idea why people are so bent out of shape over nuclear power. At the end of the day, it's just another way of boiling water. Most of the world's energy-production based pollution comes from coal & oil. Instead of environmentalists griping that nuclear power is the second coming of the Anti-Christ, why not fund ways to make the darn thing safer? Nuclear power isn't "sperm whale oil': It's not going away. The sooner we can make nuclear power safer, the better for everyone.

July 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I don't know if we can make the nuclear energy "safer", but I am pretty sure tha it will always have some risks. it's not the case with other energy sources, that are not so perfect as some people want to believe, but are without doubt more cleaner even than nuclear energy (there are some dangerous radioactive residues that nobody wants in their garden). In other hand, the whole idea of vehicles as planes, where the posibility of an accident exists is a bit crazy for me. Said that, I'm not specially anti-nuclear, but I'm not so optimisticc about it as the energy of the future like they were in the fifties and sixties. The nuclear energy is not too profitable in economic terms (it is mostly subsidiced nowadays and to make new reactors would entail a great inversion in both, budgetaire and energetic terms). Maybe mi opinion es influenced by the fact that I live in a country (Spain) where the wind and solar energy provide more Mw to the national electric system than the nuclear one and our few and old reactors are for many people vestiges of a francoist delusion of grandeur. Anyway we have, as in other european countries and, I think, in USA, a hot public debate about the future of this energy.

Sorry for my english.


July 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel

Mid air refueling removes the need for nuclear powered aircraft. If you can just send a tanker your can keep a plane in the air indefinitely traditional engines.

July 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSean O'Flaherty

Not exactly the nuclear powered nuclear missiles I was thinking of

August 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbob

You know, I was actually thinking about nuclear powered aircraft this morning, specifically in relation to September 11th, or really any airplane disaster where planes crash or catch on fire or something.

August 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergrammaticus

I remember that US Air Force messed a bit with thorium-based reactors to power a plane sometimes during the '60s.

August 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmil

very interesting

September 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I remember seeing an old Popular Science (early 1960s) with a picture of a delta-winged nuclear-powered aircraft, which said that the crew would die from radiation exposure within 24 hours of it taking off. This was said completely deadpan, as if it were a minor drawback. Just who did they think would fly these things?

September 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Tupper

I rember reading in a popular science a few years ago about a very really version of this that the USAF did build. It used a a nuclear fuel rod to to super heat jet fuel to a liquid plasma. They ! the USAF built it for long distace, high altatude recon expermental program aircraft. I think it was called (albatros). acording to the article the fuel was only slightly radioactive and toxic . LOL.

October 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKeal noise

I like every thing about it and glad to be the part of it.
flights to Melbourne

January 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersara

Nuclear powered aircrafts have so far proved unpractical for most applications.but I still wonder if the technology has been secretly developed further and is used in secret long special operations distance aircrafts, possibly unmanned. I wonder if certain UFO sightings can be of such vehicles.

March 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKnut Holt

Most of the world's energy-production based pollution comes from coal & oil. The sooner we can make nuclear power safer, the better for everyone. You can travel in cheap flights and save your money on travel.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercheap flights

The design of the aircraft is eerily similar to North American's XB-70 Valkyrie. Beautiful aircraft. Tragic outcome.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

I don't think that nuclear powered aircrafts will be here. Since they operate on a public state, there will be health hazards. I won't feel easy riding a nuclear powered plane on flights to manila.

September 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDerrick

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