How to insulate your nuclear-powered Saturn upper stage drawings, nukes, projects, rockets, spacecraft Feb 272010 Given that a NERVA-style nuclear engine can run for *hours* without breaking down, attaching one to a stage with such minimal hydrogen tank seems a bit of a waste of capabilities. A Lockheed concept shown in 1964. Pat Flannery I like the “Super Insulation” – made from Unobtainium, no doubt. 😉 Considering it has a micrometeorite shield on its exterior, this unit is expected to spend a long time in space in a fueled condition before being fired. It’s probably some sort of of orbital entry or exit stage for a Mars or Venus mission. Pat Flannery I think I may have just found your bird; a Nerva Mars expedition ship using multiple fairly squat stages: http://jpcolliat.free.fr/lune/images/nerva_08.jpg That’s from here: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://jpcolliat.free.fr/lune/nerva_2.htm The design looks like it’s supposed to use the engines and ditch them and the attached stage after one burn to avoid radiation problems. Michael Antoniewicz II Well, it was Unobtainium then but Aspen Aerogels pretty much fits the bill today. http://www.aerogel.com/ Bill Higgins– Beam Jockey “Super Insulation” is a product developed in the Sixties, for rocketry, I think, which is useful in all kinds of cryogenic systems. Tevatron magnets use it. It consists of layers of aluminized mylar, serving as a radiation barrier*, and it lives in the vacuum spaces between, say, the nitrogen layer and the liquid helium layer of our cryostats. See for example http://www.technifab.com/resources/cryogenic_information_library/insulation/index.html. *Thermal radiation in this case, not ionizing radiation. Kodos This looks like the S-N stage planned for the Saturn V.