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RFD 1

RFD 1 [Sandia]

RFD 1 (Reentry Flight Demonstration 1) was a suborbital experiment to test the survivability of the SNAP-10A nuclear reactor, which was to be tested in orbit on the Snapshot mission, during atmospheric reentry. In case these nuclear generators accidentally reentered the Earth’s atmosphere, they were designed to disassemble in the early stages of reentry and expose the fuel capsules to enough aerodynamic heating that any radioactive materials would not survive to the ground.

The vehicle consisted of an instrumented reentry body with a dummy SNAP-10A reactor with dummy fuel rods mounted in front of it. Instruments monitored the destruction of the simulated reactor and fuel rods by measuring trace chemicals.

The suborbital vehicle reached an altitude of almost 150 km, with the fuel elements ejecting from the simulated SNAP-10A generator at around 115 km. The tracer flares from the fuel rod models were visible at an altitude of around 60 km, and lasted for about one minute. The fuel rod models ablated as predicted.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: Sandia Corp.
Contractors: Sandia Corp.
Equipment:
Configuration:
Propulsion:
Power: Batteries
Lifetime:
Mass:
Orbit: suborbital
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
RFD 1 N/A 22.05.1963 WI LA-3 * Scout-X3

References:

Further RFD missions: