Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)


Mechanical Engineering

First Committee Member

William Culbreth

Second Committee Member

Alexander Barzilov

Third Committee Member

Yi-Tung Chen

Fourth Committee Member

Bernard Zygelman

Number of Pages



The importance of proving the viability of interstellar transport and addressing its potential hazards and pitfalls is immense. If we do not look toward the future and examine what could be waiting for us, we are doing our children, our children’s children, and so on, a disservice. Here we must attempt to lay the groundwork for our future scientists, engineers, and adventurers. Asking and answering questions like, which propulsion and energy systems must we incorporate to send us through the cosmos? Will we utilize technologies known today, such as fossil fuel rockets, fission or fusion rockets, and antimatter drives (pion rockets)? Will we be harnessing the energy of blackholes or will we utilize technologies that seem so far distant that they are only classified as science fiction? How would we go about designing these systems -- would we create them with our resources on Earth or would we mine them from other planets or asteroids, would we create them on and launch them from Earth or would we establish a construction site on another planet or in orbit, would we design a system now or wait 20 years to have a new design that could overtake the design sent out prior?As Einstein worked with Newton’s research, Newton worked with Kepler’s research, Kepler worked with Tycho Brahe’s research, and so on and so forth, scientists are often limited by their presence in history and time, but they can set up the scientists and engineers of the future by starting the ground work and laying out a plan for success. Thus, many questions result from an endeavor such as this and the least we could do for those future scientists is grant some answers, or at least beg the question to spark greater discourse. Here we will discuss and analyze the factors that show why fission and fusion drives will be the most likely fuel source to guide us through the cosmos, why we will create our vessel in a forward operating base in space, and why the station will be created with carbon-fiber composite materials and kevlar. We will see why 500m+ rings with rotation of at least 1.346 revolutions per minute will be used to induce artificial gravity. We will analyze how zero-g will affect our passengers and how this could transform generations aboard our vessel. All together we will gather the most viable construction methods and amalgamation of concepts for current standings of interstellar travel. We will also analyze the current standing of nuclear thermal propulsion rockets models and how we can advance them. We will highlight the importance of creating cooling loops in these systems and how they have to divert upwards of 7.4 megawatts of heat flux away from our Inconel DeLaval nozzle and the beryllium reflectors. We will highlight why bigger coolant channels in the reflector section will do greater justice to cooling the system than smaller holes but more of them. As well, finding optimal nozzle length (0.3 m), conservative estimates for single coolant looped systems, turbopump power requirements (11.5 kW), and pressure drops across the vessel (20385 Pa) will be of great importance.


Antimatter; Fission Rockets; Nuclear Propulsion; Reactor Cooling; Rocketry; Solar Sails


Aerospace Engineering | Astrophysics and Astronomy | Nuclear Engineering

File Format


File Size

14600 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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