b'C H A P T E R 13T H E T R I U M P H O F P O L I T I C A L G RA V I TY O V E R N U C L EA R F L I G H Tchanged frequently. In the field, scien- views that AEC decisions were based frame, shielding, and other studies tooktists complained that this was no way to purely on technical grounds were thor- place in many other states.run a technical program. Money either oughly discredited. To defend and nur-flowed copiously from Washington or it ture its federal growth machine, the In a conventional airplane, the combus-dribbled out, choked and stinted. Idaho region needed an insider. Idaho needed tion of chemical fuel produces heat.supporters of the NRTS observed this representation on the JCAE itself. Idaho Hot compressed air passes through aand learned a valuable lesson. senator Henry Dworshak looked for his turbine and is exhausted through anchance and wrote, with some understate- opening (nozzle) at the rear of the air-One of the policy shuffles occurred in ment, to a senate colleague in 1956 that craft, providing thrust in the opposite1953. Rumors reached Idaho Falls in there is sentiment in my state for me to direction. The function of a nuclearm ci May that the AEC was preparing to sit on the Joint Committee on At oreactor was to produce heat, replacingsuspend the program and reduce its Energy. Upon his appointment, south- the combustion chamber. It would havebudget in Idaho. The AEC was now east Idaho was well pleased. 7 to fit within an airframe and generatespending millions of dollars a year in extremely high temperatures.Idaho and was fast becoming the Not all the Wa s h int Shielding to protect the crewgo nlargest employer in the state. Fat con- money for the ANP had to weigh as little as struction payrolls were extra fodder for program was spent in possible, or the planethe growth machine. Retrenchment was Idaho. Pieces of the couldnt get off theunthinkable. project were flung ground. The reactorall over the nation. and turbomachineryThe program survived, but in the face of Engineers had con- materials had to per-the airplanes shiftable fortunes, the ceived two form reliably amidstpolitical and economic leaders in south- approaches for the air- extreme heat, compres-east Idaho now realized that the NRT S p l an sion, and stress.es propulsion sys-could shrink as well as grow. Old 1949 tem, and only the groundtests for one approach were sched- Akey engineering problem was howuled for the NRTS. Tu r bom a chiner y , air- best to transfer the heat to the air. In thedirect cycle approach, com-pressed air would flowthrough the reactor andabsorb heat directly fromthe fuel elements. It wouldthen pass through the turbineand be expelled through thenozzle. By contrast, the indi-rect cycle provided an interme-diate heat exchanger between theair and the reactor, using a closedloop of liquid metal as the mediumof exchange. The direct cycle wasassigned to General Electric in 1951and was to be tested in Idaho. (Pratt &Whitney of Massachusetts undertook theindirect cycle, which didnt progress asThe ANP program was spread widely across the fast as the direct cycle testing.) 8nation, with the ANP office in Washington, D.C.1 1 9'