Near Earth Object fuel,
new fuel

This site contains some of the presentations and technical notes of the author.  Just before he left the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), United States Department of Energy, where he worked from 1991 through 1998 and was their last Principal Investigator, Nuclear Space Transport Systems. 

All the technical work from the 1990's on this site was paid for and supported by the United States Department of Energy, at the Idaho National Laboratory. The 2010-2011 work was commissioned by Paul Sturrock.

iceship story for NASA, 1998 The Ice Ship

A giant space ship made of ice,
as presented at the
      NASA Workshop on Using In Situ Resources for
      Construction of Planetary Outposts,
              April 30–May 1, 1998

Narrative format of the meeting.

water ship for 50,000 tons back to orbits around

Water Balloon Space Ship

            to bring train loads of things back to orbits around Earth

 6/24/2010 9:30:29 PM a zuppero,commissioned and paid for by Paul Sturrock.

This is a sketch of a first technical analysis evaluating how much water or ice we could deliver using a bare-bones space tanker. The tanker weight is about the same as the Space Shuttle. In the sketch, we fill a water tank out in space. The location is defined in terms of the mission delta_V to go from there to here. One mission delta_V is chosen to be less than landing on the moon, and other delta-V's like landing on a moon of Mars. "Here" means to a high orbit like Earth-Moon-L5.
A typical Scenario: You are out in space, on the moon, trying to make the best use of water in space.

Question: When you have plenty of water, just none to waste, how do you use it best? Do you use electricity and electrolysis to make hydrogen and oxygen gas? Do you make liquid hydrogn and liquid oxygen rocket fuel and use it in a known, highly reliable RL-10 family of rocket engines that really performs well?

Or, do you just use it in a simple nuclear heated steam rocket, which performs poorly regarding rocket exhaust velocity, but delivers payloads in massive amounts when the mission delta_V is less than about 3 km/second?

Answer: Simple wins. The original work expected to find water on the moon, and to have access tp perfected, advanced nuclear heated steam rockets. This story would have a much better ending if there were water on the moon, and especially on something with 100 times less gravity, instead of the moon.

The breakthrough that makes this topic relevant is that the United States space research recently (from about 2000 thru 2011) found more than 8000 objects classified as "near Earth." (near Earth Objects, NEOs).  About 1200 can be easier to get to than landing on the moon. And, the NEO's low gravity lets the landing craft launch about 100 times more weight off the NEO than launching from the moon. By comparison, the moon's gravity is "large".  The technical paper tells why we thought using water as the rocket fuel reaction mass was better than using liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen rockets for this mission.

The technical paper (click here pdf) authors are Lockheed-Martin and United States Deparement of Energy people who found the key technology.

Origin Of How Steam Rockets Can Reduce Space Transport Cost By Orders Of Magnitude


Anthony Zuppero1, Thomas K. Larson1, Bruce G. Schnitzler1, James E. Werner2,

 John W. Rice1, Thomas J. Hill1, William D. Richins1, Lynn Parlier1


1. Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies,

Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory

Idaho Falls, ID 83415

2. Department of Energy, Idaho Field Office,

Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory

Idaho Falls, ID 83415

And the answer was and still seems to be:
      "simplest wins."
Science_Fair presentation for
Science Fair at West Wind Elementary School
44044 36th St West
Lancaster, CA 93536
(661) 948-0192     Attention Anne Marie Sutton
Event Date: Friday, January 20, 2012
Event Hours: (open to public 5:30pm to 8:30pm)
Event Location: West Wind Cafetorium

HTML 3.5 Megabytes 4th Grade level, .

Draft, PDF 11 Megabytes,

    "Computer Aided Tomagraphy, C.A.T. scan" of the Solar System, showing the comets and their dust trails, mostly between Earth and Jupiter.
   Figure 3: The Water Donut formation of periodic comets,
     ...contains water ice permafrost and hydrocarbons similar to oil shale, and
     ...Earth is just inside the inner edge of the donut hole.
Image accurate for 12 April 2011      © A Zuppero, 2011

Nearby Micro-Galaxy Containing Probably Habitable, Dark Micro-Stars Of Economically Viable Rocket Fuel Ores   

( Solar System, Including Recently Discovered Near Earth Objects)
"micro-galaxy" and "dark micro-stars" are a journalistic label for Jupiter family comets and near earth objects. If it shines in the dark night sky, it is a "star". If it is too small to be seen most of the time, it is "dark". If it is too small to ignite any nuclear reactions, it is "micro". If it has low gravity, it is accessible to large landing craft. If it has water, it is "habitable". If all of these, it is a probably-habitable dark micro star. If it is also "close", then the water could be worth money because it is rocket fuel mass and rocket fuel ore deliverable to the vicinity of Earth, to a rocket fuel gas station.

A micro-galaxy of nearby, probably habitable, dark micro-stars mostly within 10 years travel time from Earth was discovered during the last decade.  Galileo might have labeled these objects in this way, if he could have seen them....

... Figure 4 Perspective view of the nearly invisible, "dark micro-star galaxy" engulfing Earth on 12 April 2011 ... of where we live in the dark micro-star galaxy, containing thousands of nearby, probably habitable, nearly invisible objects mostly within 10 years travel time from Earth.

Abstract 380 words,  DRAFT pdf by zuppero et al 
Written for professional meeting, but at 4th grade level, 1.2 megabytes
neo solar system, on year 2011 month April day
CAT scan of the Solar System, showing water bearing object candidates
 mostly between Earth and Jupiter
and bigger than about 1 kilometer in size and small enough to mine for rocket fuel mass and ore.

Quick Links to some CAT scans of the Solar System:
(solsys_neos_pcomets) solar system CT scan from past pluto of 1200 largest near earth objects (red) and Jupiter family comets (white)

(solsys_pcomets_orbitdust) solar system CT scan from sun to Jupiter showing periodic comets and their orbit debris tubes

   1996 version (not CT scan)
One page summary here   
This is the first description of views of the solar system generated by a digitally algorithmic hyperspectral display of rocket fuel water objects relatively near Earth. 

It was written for Fourth Grade Elementary School children in grade schools I have spoken to many times.  

A collection of raw images can be seen here but is not in professional form at all. It was put together for the pictures, not the words, and the words are at 4th Grade level. It is not even a story. This was my child-like expression exuberance at seeing the pictures we had just created for the first time, pictures of the formally nearly invisible galaxy-like picture of us embedded in our recent discovery of the water-full near Earth objects.

The picture is like a medical cat scan. It is inside-out, where we are inside the CAT scan and the neo solar system is outside.

Technical papers follow here

data for delta_V to go from near earth object to a barely-captured orbit around Earth,
       for near earth objects and comets, per equation of Shoemaker-Helin ; to orbit with perigee 1.3 Re, apogee 200 Re

     6.7 Megabytes  Microsoft Excel table

Data from Don Yeomans, JPL, year 2010
        near earth asteroids:

Equation from : Shoemaker and Helin (1978), Earth-approaching asteroids as targets for exploration, NASA CP-2053, pp. 245-256

" Propulsion to Moons of Jupiter Using Heat and Water  Without Electrolysis Or Cryogenics "

This work was originally performed using United states Department of Enery funding at the Idaho National Laboratory
and the report was published under the sponsorship of NeoKismet L.L.C., May 2005.

Submitted draft, is a longer, better story with color illustrations    
       (PDF, 206 kBytes, color, better story)

Final Draft of Paper is a shorter, concise technical paper with black and white illustrations. 
      (PDF, 198 kBytes, black and white, per conference rules)

Conference Slides, Power Point

Compares a mission to Callisto using either water or liquid hydrogen propellants, and carrying along the hardware to extract water from space objects such as near earth asteroids, Earth's moon, comets and ice moons.


Paper Identification Number: 09211248Zupp
Author: Dr. Anthony Zuppero
Affiliation: NeoKismet, L.L.C.

19 Jan 2005

Pump and Pressure Vessel Considerations for Nuclear Heated Steam Rocket

Anthony C. Zuppero, William D. Richins
for presentation to the at the American Nuclear Society 1998 Annual Meeting    Annual Meeting, June 6-10, 1998 Boston, MA

short paper on water pump needed for steam rocket.

Spaceships Made of Ice iceship

1998 version of lunar ice water truck

1999artwork by Mark Maxwell

with retired NASA Johnson Space Center structures expert Dr. George Zupp as coauthor

lunar ice water truck (1997)

describes nuclear-heated steam rocket in the role of a water truck, to take lunar ice
from the moon's North or South poles and into orbit around the Moon.

derivation of optimum rocket specific impulse


another version:

optimum value maximizes payload, speed, energy

The same, optimum value of delta_V/Vsp

papers on fission electric power for lunar and mars
A Lunar Fission Surface Power (FSP) System   ... Werner 2009, power point  5.7 megabytes  pdf 15 megabytes    
40 kW, sterling electric,
radiators 2 panels each 16 m x 4 m, 375 Kelvin,7 metric tons, 8 year life

Reference Reactor Module Design for NASA's Lunar Fission Surface Power System ... Poston et al  5.8 megabytes
40 kW, sterling, 3 tons approx, full of technical details, 8 year life

In-Space Propulsion - High Thrust Systems Nuclear Thermal Propulsion  ... Schnitzler, 2011

25,000-lbf Thrust Engine Options Based on the Small Nuclear Rocket Engine Design Schnitzler- Borowski - Fittje 2009


World Trade Center
I will not help any culture go to space
who supported the bombing.



2014-03-20vaz  _arc for archive
i want to do crystal momentum quasimatter reactions.
It might not be science fiction.