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Mon Aug 12, 2019, 12:11 PM

Fatal explosion in Russia released radiation, giving United States pause

US intelligence officials are racing to understand a mysterious explosion that released radiation off the coast of northern Russia last week, apparently during the test of a new type of nuclear-propelled cruise missile hailed by President Vladimir Putin as the centerpiece of Moscow’s arms race with the United States.

American officials have said nothing publicly about the blast on Thursday, possibly one of the worst nuclear accidents in Russia since Chernobyl, although apparently on a far smaller scale, with at least seven people, including scientists, confirmed dead.

But the Russian government’s slow and secretive response has set off anxiety in nearby cities and towns — and attracted the attention of analysts in Washington and Europe who believe the explosion may offer a glimpse of technological weaknesses in Russia’s new arms program.

Thursday’s accident happened offshore of the Nenoksa Missile Test Site and was followed by what nearby local officials initially reported was a spike in radiation in the atmosphere.

Late Sunday night, officials at a research institute that had employed five of the scientists who died confirmed for the first time that a small nuclear reactor had exploded during an experiment in the White Sea, and that the authorities were investigating the cause.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/fatal-explosion-in-russia-released-radiation-giving-united-states-pause/ar-AAFFnJQ?li=BBnb7Kz

28 replies, 1338 views

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Reply Fatal explosion in Russia released radiation, giving United States pause (Original post)
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Aug 12 OP
WhiteTara Aug 12 #1
blugbox Aug 12 #4
revmclaren Aug 12 #11
bdamomma Aug 12 #20
WhiteTara Aug 12 #14
blugbox Aug 12 #16
sarisataka Aug 12 #6
USALiberal Aug 12 #22
gordianot Aug 12 #2
PCIntern Aug 12 #3
gordianot Aug 12 #15
PCIntern Aug 12 #18
gordianot Aug 12 #21
Doc_Technical Aug 12 #5
blugbox Aug 12 #7
dumbcat Aug 12 #8
blugbox Aug 12 #9
DetroitLegalBeagle Aug 12 #10
dumbcat Aug 12 #12
MineralMan Aug 12 #13
blugbox Aug 12 #17
MineralMan Aug 12 #19
blugbox Aug 12 #23
MineralMan Aug 12 #24
DetroitLegalBeagle Aug 12 #26
hunter Aug 12 #25
KY_EnviroGuy Aug 12 #27
Vinca Aug 12 #28

Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 12:16 PM

1. I saw a video of the explosion and I knew

instantly it was nuclear. Definitely a mushroom cloud.

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Response to WhiteTara (Reply #1)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 12:58 PM

4. Is there video of this?

I saw the video of the Russian ammo storage facility exploding a few days before this explosion... it had a very mushroomy look and produced compression clouds. Was it that?

I'm assuming they are covering up as much as they can with this one...

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Response to blugbox (Reply #4)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 02:00 PM

11. Here is one of the videos.



Frightening!



ONLY!!! 2019 and beyond.

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Response to revmclaren (Reply #11)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 02:58 PM

20. Oh God

that is more than frightening don't show tRump.

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Response to blugbox (Reply #4)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 02:25 PM

14. That might have been what I saw

If so, there sure were lots of scientists blown up along with the ammo. It was very mushroomy.

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Response to WhiteTara (Reply #14)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 02:43 PM

16. Yeah they are two separate events.

The video posted above was Aug. 5th I believe, and is video of the ammo facility explosion. I think only one person died in that one.

I do not think they have released footage of the nuclear rocket explosion that killed the scientists.

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Response to WhiteTara (Reply #1)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 01:00 PM

6. A mushroom cloud does not

Automatically indicate a nuclear explosion. Any large enough explosion will create a mushroom cloud.

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Response to sarisataka (Reply #6)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 03:25 PM

22. Yep, common. Nt

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Response to gordianot (Reply #2)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 12:57 PM

3. Holy shit.

I think I’d pass out if I saw that on the horizon.

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Response to PCIntern (Reply #3)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 02:27 PM

15. I would not be standing outside for long.

If it truly is what it looks like they are dead in 5 to 10 years.

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Response to gordianot (Reply #15)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 02:54 PM

18. You're right about that, O Unravellable One! nt

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Response to PCIntern (Reply #18)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 03:23 PM

21. Chernobyl was basically a dirty bomb superheated water and burning debris.

It will take a new containment carcass about every 100 years for the next 20,000 years so it does not poison the Volga.

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Response to Doc_Technical (Reply #5)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 01:02 PM

7. Wow, that last paragraph...

The weapon was considered "too provocative",[2] and it was believed that it would compel the Soviets to construct a similar device, against which there was no known defense.

That didn't work out too well I guess

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 01:36 PM

8. Can some techie explain to me, in rudimentary terms

how a small nuclear (presumably fission) reactor would provided propulsion thrust for a cruise missile?

I can see it for the torpedo/drone submarine version of the weapon, using a near conventional turbine. But how does it provide propulsive thrust for a missile? Is it actually a turbine/prop setup? I can't see how a reactor (which provides only heat) can provide enough heated air to run a turbojet or turbofan. What am I missing?

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Response to dumbcat (Reply #8)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 01:50 PM

9. I'm no nuclear rocket scientist

But I believe it would get up to speed by conventional means, then activate the ram-jet nuclear gizmo after it's at speed.

I know that they use reactor heat to create steam for launch systems in aircraft carriers, so I'm guessing they can also provide a lot of heated air for some weird ram-jet setup

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Response to dumbcat (Reply #8)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 01:54 PM

10. US prototype in the 60s was a nuclear powered ramjet

The missile would be launched conventionally until it reached the speed necessary for a ramjet to function. Then the reactor would go critical and the heat from the reactor would heat incoming high speed air, causing it to expand and create thrust. Or so I have read. I am not a engineer lol.

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Response to DetroitLegalBeagle (Reply #10)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 02:10 PM

12. Thanks to both of you

I suspected it had to be some kind of a ramjet principle. But, I am an engineer (though the electrical kind) and I have a really hard time wrapping my brain around the heat flows required for such a thing. I guess I'm not the guy to design one of those things.

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Response to dumbcat (Reply #8)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 02:16 PM

13. Pretty simple. A nuclear reaction can generate massive amounts of

heat. Cooling nuclear reactors is one of the major engineering issues. As hot air expands it is exhausted out the rear of what is a simple ramjet concept. Exhausted very, very quickly, which produces thrust. The hotter the air, the higher the thrust.

Why would such a thing explode? if not enough air flowed through to adequately cool the reactor, pressures can grow enormously and very quickly. BOOM!

Such a propulsion system could, theoretically, produce a constant or throttleable amount of thrust. Controlling a nuclear reaction is understood very well. It could also produce almost unlimited acceleration over time, within whatever limits the design has.

It's a dangerous thing, though. A brief lapse in cooling could produce a catastrophic failure. And that may well be what happened there in Russia.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #13)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 02:48 PM

17. I wonder if control rods in this case are controllable fast enough

to regulate a nuclear reactor operating right on the edge...

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Response to blugbox (Reply #17)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 02:56 PM

19. I don't know.

I also don't know how close to the edge they're going to generate the desired level of thrust. I'm not a nuclear engineer.

I do know that operating a reactor close to criticality can be tricky. A little reactor in a town near my childhood home back in the late 1950s actually had a meltdown due to loss of control. You can look up the Santa Susana nuclear meltdown if you wish.

A thrust-producing reactor designed to provide propulsion for a flying object will naturally have to be designed with weight in mind, so, it's bound to be a marginal thing when it comes to safe operation. Since the reactor would be designed to be fed cold air as it moved through the air, static tests would require a stream of air flowing through the reactor. If that were interrupted, you'd have a serious control problem. That's probably what caused the explosion - a loss of air flow.

To me, the whole thing seems highly impractical and potentially very, very unsafe to operate. Control rods or whatever damping is being used will be using a mechanical system to move something. The high heat generated can play the devil with mechanical devices. More sources of potential failures and a real engineering dilemma, I'd think.

Boom!

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #19)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 03:40 PM

23. Awesome read thank you!

I find nuclear energy and technology particularly unnerving, so stories like this from the pioneering days are nightmare fuel.

They were so freaking close to a criticality incident it's crazy! Reads just like Chernobyl up until meltdown basically haha. Finding out where the term "excursions" came from... ugh they really were just going by theoretical limits!

So yeah, let's just strap all that to a missile. I think the U.S. military agrees with you about it being highly impractical and potentially unsafe to operate.

My new question is: would they ultimately arm these with nuclear warheads? I mean whatever target you hit would suffer a similar spike in radiation anyway...so they are already technically nuclear missiles even without a warhead...

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Response to blugbox (Reply #23)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 03:52 PM

24. Well, I hope they don't use that technology.

Probably they won't, after this incident.

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Response to blugbox (Reply #23)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 04:35 PM

26. Project pluto.

Look it up. Basically a nuclear powered cruise missile, armed with warheads. Theoretically it could be launched and then circle at high altitude for weeks. Then when the attack order came, fly over russia, drop its payload, then dive down to treetop level at supersonic speeds, damaging things in its supersonic wake, all while spewing radiation out the back.

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Response to dumbcat (Reply #8)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 04:24 PM

25. If it was a nuclear reactor we will know soon enough.

For all we know this was a conventional rocket accident and the nuclear rumors are just bullshit to see if anything or anyone comes sniffing around.

I don't think it was any Project Pluto sort of flying nuclear reactor. Instead they may be using a hot radioactive isotope in some kind of restartable rocket engine. Such a restartable rocket might be incorporated in a conventionally fueled cruise missile able to travel long distances at a leisurely pace. When such a missile detected missile defenses, or even manned fighter jets, it could fire its rocket engines as necessary to dodge threats at very high accelerations.

The rocket itself would use conventional propellants, probably the same jet fuel powering the high efficiency air breathing engines and a relatively safe oxidizer such as liquid oxygen used only in evasive maneuvers.

There are fuel oxidizer combinations that are self igniting which are commonly used in restartable rocket engines but they tend to be very toxic, hard to handle, and inefficient in jet engines.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypergolic_propellant




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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 05:12 PM

27. Article filled with poor wording, speculation and sensationalism.

MSN needs to keep the game boys away from the news room.

* Even a mention of Chernobyl in this article is wrong-headed and pure fear mongering.

* This was not a true nuclear explosion even though the text might lead the reader to think so.

* The surge in radiation levels would have to be confirmed by officials, as would the source.

* The article goes on and on about what a bad-ass this missile will be even though it's not confirmed the missile was involved.

These are about the only facts I can find, assuming we can believe what Russia says:

(snips from BBC)
The Russian state nuclear agency, Rosatom, said the experts had been testing a nuclear-powered engine. But it gave no further technical details.
+++
Initially the defense ministry said the explosion on 8 August had involved a liquid-fuel rocket engine, and gave the death toll as two, without specifying the victims. Later, Rosatom said the test had involved a "radio-isotope propellant source" and had taken place on an offshore platform.

The engineers had completed testing, but suddenly a fire broke out and the engine exploded, throwing the men into the sea, Rosatom said.

All articles of this serious nature should be at least fact and language-checked by a qualified science editor.

KY.......

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Mon Aug 12, 2019, 05:32 PM

28. Nothing to fear here . . . dancin' Rick Perry is on the case.

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