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NASA looks at MHD power & thruster

Uncle Bob

SOC-14 1K
Not quite 2300, but kinda sidles-up to it.
Full paper published by the American Institute of Physics. Probably VERY expensive (EDIT: The pdf is $22. I may talk myself into it.)
Knight, Travis; Anghaie, Samim
NASA Center for AeroSpace Information (CASI)
SPACE TECHNOLOGY AND APPLICATIONS INTERNAT. FORUM-STAIF 2004: Conf.on Thermophys.in Microgravity; Commercial/Civil Next Gen.Space Transp.; 21st Symp.Space Nuclear Power & Propulsion; Human Space Explor.; Space Colonization; New Frontiers & Future Concepts, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States, 8-11 February 2004; AIP Conference Proceedings, Volume 699, 379-387 , 20040204; February 04, 2004

Very low specific-mass power generation in space is possible using Vapor Core Reactors with Magnetohydrodynamic (VCR/MHD) generator. These advanced reactors at the conceptual design level have potential for the generation of tens to hundreds of megawatts of power in space with specific mass of about 1 kg/kWe. Power for nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) is possible with almost direct power conditioning and coupling of the VCR/MHD power output to the VASIMR engine, MPD, and a whole host of electric thrusters. The VCR/MHD based NEP system is designed to power space transportation systems that dramatically reduce the mission time for human exploration of the entire solar system or for aggressive long-term robotic missions. There are more than 40 years of experience in the evaluation of the scientific and technical feasibility of gas and vapor core reactor concepts. The proposed VCR is based on the concept of a cavity reactor made critical through the use of a reflector such as beryllium or beryllium oxide. Vapor fueled cavity reactors that are considered for NEP applications operate at maximum core center and wall temperatures of 4000 K and 1500K, respectively. A recent investigation has resulted in the conceptual design of a uranium tetrafluoride fueled vapor core reactor coupled to a MHD generator. Detailed neutronic design and cycle analyses have been performed to establish the operating design parameters for 10 to 200 MWe NEP systems. An integral system engineering-simulation code is developed to perform parametric analysis and design optimization studies for the VCR/MHD power system. Total system weight and size calculated based on existing technology has proven the feasibility of achieving exceptionally low specific mass ([alpha] [approx]1 kg/kWe) with a VCR/MHD powered system. [copyright] 2004 American Institute of Physics
Document ID: 20040020176
No Digital Version Available - Go to Tips on Ordering
Updated/Added to NTRS: 2004-09-16
It sounds cool. Only thing I am afraid of is that nobody will ever get the funding to try it out. I know nothing useful about physics but I would really like my NASA tax dollars to go toward this kind of thing. Modern rockets seem to the job but I think that we have gone as far as we can with the current technology. I want to throw some cash toward something new, if it doesn't work we will try something else.

[edit] Nice pictures for us non-rocket sci guys!
Rocket PDF file