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# Towed tandem nuclear-electric aircraft

Simple
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One of the biggest problems with your species' crude nuclear fission reactors is radiation shielding.

Fortunately there's a useful bit of Physics called Inverse-square law.

So, to build a viable manned (i.e. passenger carrying) nuclear aircraft, proceed as follows:

Put a closed-cycle fission reactor and electrical generator in a robust airframe with some token shielding.

Take a conventional passenger aircraft such as an A380, replace the gas turbines with electric motors, and stuff the now redundant fuel tanks with Li-ion batteries.

Connect the tail of the passenger aircraft to the nose of the reactor aircraft with a long towing line from which an electrical cable is slung.

On takeoff, the front aircraft drags the rear one into the air using battery power. As soon as a safe* altitude is reached, the reactor is diverged, powering the towing aircraft, plus its own engines, and recharging the batteries. Simple distance and inverse-square law protect the humans from the radiation.

The combination has, for all practical purposes, unlimited range.

Should the cable part, the passenger portion has enough battery power to make an attempt at a controlled landing, although a go-around might not be an option.

* for a given value of "safe". Check regulations in your locality before withdrawing control rods.

 — 8th of 7, Sep 25 2019

I'm guessing this is where you got part of the idea... [neutrinos_shadow, Sep 25 2019]

 hmmm, does this inverse square law minimum safe distance still apply when one is traveling towards where something just recently spewed radiation, some of which has been radiated directly towards you?

We're gonna need a bigger tether.
 — 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Sep 25 2019

 Go and find out the difference between "radiation" and "contamination".

Neutron activation can make some elements radioactive; but the effect is localized and well-understood.
 — 8th of 7, Sep 25 2019

You could make the tow plane with a very long and thin reactor. Then the vast majority of radiation, would be, well, radial. If you can make it thin enough, the tow-cable would essentially be 100+ meters of shielding.
 — bs0u0155, Sep 25 2019

What's the procedure for landing both parts?
 — notexactly, Sep 25 2019

 In a word, "cautiously".

 Next question ?

 // a very long and thin reactor. //



<Selects favorite baseball bat and flexes muscles />
 — 8th of 7, Sep 25 2019

//.. flexes muscles//
Do we laugh now, or after the attempt?

 Please, laugh now, and loudly; it makes such a piquant contrast with the screams, groans and begging that inevitably follow.

For we are many, and you are but one ...
 — 8th of 7, Sep 26 2019

 //Neutron activation can make some elements radioactive; but the effect is localized and well-understood.//

 Fascinating. The effect travels at the speed of the subject even though it radiates.

That's whacked.
 — 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Sep 26 2019

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