Deviation Actions

William-Black's avatar

Earth Orbit Escape Burn with Radiator SFX



Note: The full resolution full size artwork is currently available to my patrons. See William Black on Patreon.

Some time ago I started experimenting with a gradient  mapped incandescence node using the black-body node for Cycles in Blender. This is the render of my 80-day Mars mission radiator-cooled open-cycle gas-core nuclear thermal rocket with radiators glowing at 1390 k, the full power coolant output temperature from the gas-core reactor.

This image is identical to Mars Courier Mission, Earth-Orbit Escape Burn except for the visible glow of its radiators.

Black-body radiation is the type of electromagnetic radiation within or surrounding a body in thermodynamic equilibrium with its environment, or emitted by a black body (an opaque and non-reflective body), assumed for the sake of calculations and theory to be held at constant, uniform temperature.

Blender has a rather nifty programmable black-body node, an emission shader which glows at the proper color spectrum for a given temperature.

Project description and technical notes

Part one of a planned set of illustrations depicting a typical 80-day Mars courier mission involving the use of a radiator cooled open-cycle gas-core nuclear thermal rocket.

Spacecraft design is derived from the following NASA technical memorandum:

NASA TM X-2772 Link: Reactor Moderator, Pressure Vessel, And Heat Rejection System of An Open-Cycle Gas-Core Nuclear Rocket Concept

NASA TM X-67823 Link: Gas Core Rocket Reactors-A New Look

NASA TM X-67927 Link: Crew Radiation Dose From The Plume of A High Impulse Gas-Core Nuclear Rocket During A Mars Mission

Fast Mars Round Trips

The Mars round-trip mission performance of the radiator-GCNR system is compared to that of several alternative engine concepts in NASA TM X-67823, Fig. 8. Initial mass in Earth orbit (IMEO), a rough measure of initial cost, is plotted against the round-trip mission time. The radiator GCNR is compared to a SCNR (solid core nuclear rocket) and higher mass/lower delta-v GCNR missions and to a theoretical low-thrust/high isp fusion propulsion system.

In "Courier" mode all the available mission time is used for Earth-Mars transits. The 80 day Mars courier mission would require about 3,350 kg of uranium and 670,000 kg of hydrogen. These amount to about 3/4 of the 900,000 kg IMEO.

The radiator gas core rocket is based on NASA TM X-2772, a preliminary design study of a 6,000 megawatt open-cycle gas-core nuclear rocket engine. The engine has a thrust of 196,600 newtons (44,200 Lbs) and a specific impulse of 4400 seconds. The nuclear fuel is enriched uranium-235 and the propellant is hydrogen.

The courier mission spacecraft is comprised of a command module, payload, jettisonable liquid hydrogen tankage, and interconnecting structure. The GCNR provides the four burns required – Earth-orbit escape, Mars-orbit capture, Mars-orbit escape and Earth-orbit capture at mission’s end. The "core" vehicle comprising the GCNR engine, its uranium storage and supply system, the command module, and part of the hydrogen tankage, is recovered in Earth orbit to be refurbished and reused.

The spacecraft departs from and (the core vehicle) returns to a 600 mile apogee parking orbit.

In my extrapolated scenario the Mars 80-day courier mission provides mission support (in the form of regular supply drops and crew rotation) for a protracted surface presence, this might be a manned surface base or a mobile expeditionary party. The Mars lander I’ve designed is an unmanned supply capsule with no ascent stage. The visual look is intended to reflect mission hardware as it might appear if designs had been realized in the immediate post-Apollo era and is influenced by David A. Hardy’s illustrations and my previous work with spacecraft concept drawings provided by Dr. R.C. Parkinson.

Related Art

The R.A. Heinlein

Mars Courier Mission, Earth-Orbit Escape Burn

Mars Courier Mission, Earth-Escape Tank Jettison

Open Cycle Gas Core Nuclear Thermal Rocket

Radiation Design by CG Modeling

Gas Core Rocket New Radiation Simulation


A number of talented individuals contributed to this project through participation in discussions on my G+, special thanks are due to Luke Campbell of PNNL, Winchell Chung of Atomic Rockets, Ron Fischer of Weta Digital, and Dogmatic Pyrrhonist talented designer of KSP mods, and John Reiher author of fine SF and founder of Real Spaceship Designs.
Image details
Image size
1543x1167px 649.13 KB
© 2016 - 2023 William-Black
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
Septimus-Oraka's avatar
You realistic designs never cease of surprise me. :)