The Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, located near Waynesboro in eastern
Georgia near the South Carolina border, has a total capacity of 2,430 Mw.
It would take 128 Vogtle-sized reactors to provide our 1.18 million pounds
It requires about six pounds of uranium to be “burned” every 24 hours to
produce 791 megawatts of power at the Cooper Nuclear Station reactor in
Thus our ion-drive engine’s 311,000 megawatt reactor would burn about 2,360
pounds of uranium every 24 hours, or 0.66 pounds of uranium per second of
thrust. If refueled every 18 months of full-thrust time, the refueling would
require 1.2 million pounds of uranium.
Of course, every full-thrust second also requires 100 pounds of something,
say water, be provided to our ion-beam. If we also carried an 18-month
(548-day) supply of water that would be 4,735 million pounds of water, or
about 2.37 million tons of water.
Say that we decided to build an unmanned prototype of this vehicle in Earth orbit. For testing purposes, we had decided to paint “Bye-bye Saddam” on the nose of it, fire it up, and head it out toward deep space. At the last minute we had to fight off a Russian attempt to put a dog on board, but we did throw in a few gooey Hallmark cards and several sheets of uncancelled postage stamps.
Well, our design goals were realized when the finished mass of the vehicle was just under twice the weight of water: the finished craft weighed just 5 million tons. Initial acceleration, in g’s was 0.000118, or 0.003776 ft/sec/sec. After running for one week, the velocity was 2,284 ft/sec. After 18 months, when it ran out of fuel, the velocity was about 178,130 ft/sec, or about 34 miles per second, or 54,294 meters/sec. This is about 0.00018 c: hardly relativistic.