HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » New Policy Sets in Motion...

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 11:41 AM

New Policy Sets in Motion Nuclear Space Travel and Colonization

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/policy-sets-motion-nuclear-space-133000204.html

LOS ANGELES, CA / ACCESSWIRE / January 11, 2021 / On December 16, 2020, the White House issued Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6), which outlines a national strategy for using space nuclear power and propulsion (SNPP) systems in a safe and effective manner. The new policy directive confirms the United States' commitment to using SNPP systems and establishing nuclear power stations on the moon and beyond, which is good news for US Nuclear (OTCQB:UCLE) and partner MIFTI, who have designed and are testing thermonuclear fusion power generators.

Scott Pace of the National Space Council, commented "Space nuclear power and propulsion is a fundamentally enabling technology for American deep-space missions to Mars and beyond. The United States intends to remain the leader among spacefaring nations, applying nuclear power technology safely, securely, and sustainably in space." The key factor for enabling space travel are the new nuclear powered propulsion systems, as traditional chemical powered rocket fuels are hopelessly weak. DARPA, NASA, and the US Space Force have recently gotten serious and deployed the nuclear option. Why? Nuclear fuels and nuclear power systems, such as the highly-regarded MIFTI Z-pinch fusion reactor, can deliver 10,000,000 times the work (or energy) per payload pound than the chemical rocket fuels now used by Musk's Space-X, Bezos's Blue Origin, Branson's Virgin Atlantic, as do Lockheed and Boeing.

Fusion propulsion should far outperform fission-based propulsion, because fusion reactions release up to four times as much energy, says NASA chief engineer Jeff Sheehy. Fusion uses a very lightweight, low-cost, and safe fuel, whereas fission uses a fuel that is scarce, expensive, and hazardous. Fusion propulsion devices could also be one-thousandth as large as a fission device. Saturn's moon Titan, has long been a focus of scientists as it is the only known body in space besides Earth where there is clear evidence of surface liquid, which could potentially harbor life. A fusion powered propulsion system could reach Mars in as little as 3 months, the asteroid belt in 7 months, and Titan in just two years.

Princeton Plasma Physics Lab is in the process of developing a fusion powered spacecraft called the Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) which can produce thrust directly from fusion, while US Nuclear and MIFTI are just a few years away from producing the world's first working fusion power generator.

(Excerpt)

21 replies, 568 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply New Policy Sets in Motion Nuclear Space Travel and Colonization (Original post)
Dial H For Hero Jan 11 OP
Towlie Jan 11 #1
Loki Liesmith Jan 11 #3
Towlie Jan 11 #4
Loki Liesmith Jan 11 #5
Hugin Jan 11 #9
Dial H For Hero Jan 11 #10
Hugin Jan 11 #11
Dial H For Hero Jan 11 #13
Hugin Jan 11 #14
Dial H For Hero Jan 11 #15
Loki Liesmith Jan 11 #16
muriel_volestrangler Jan 11 #18
Loki Liesmith Jan 11 #20
muriel_volestrangler Jan 11 #21
triron Jan 11 #6
Towlie Jan 11 #7
Dial H For Hero Jan 11 #8
muriel_volestrangler Jan 11 #17
Dial H For Hero Jan 11 #19
Loki Liesmith Jan 11 #2
Wounded Bear Jan 11 #12

Response to Dial H For Hero (Original post)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 11:47 AM

1. Trying to legislate technology into existence with the goal of taking credit for it if it happens?

 


But of course if it results in a radioactive atmosphere then there's no doubt where the blame will go.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Towlie (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 11:50 AM

3. How is a fusion reactor going to irradiate the atmosphere?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Loki Liesmith (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 12:24 PM

4. I don't really know, it's currently nothing more than science fiction.

 


It's how the atmosphere-processing plant was powered in James Cameron's movie, Aliens.

But it does appear that a fusion reactor may produce less radiation but not eliminate it completely:

Wikipedia: Fusion Rocket

For space flight, the main advantage of fusion would be the very high specific impulse, and the main disadvantage the (likely) large mass of the reactor. However, a fusion rocket may produce less radiation than a fission rocket, reducing the mass needed for shielding.


All I'm really saying is that if the project succeeds the Trump crime family will claim credit, but if it fails it'll be the scientists' fault.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Towlie (Reply #4)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 12:28 PM

5. I'll answer the question: it can't

Fusion reactors do not create radioactive waste.
Also they are not science fiction. Some of my colleagues work on fusion reactors.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Loki Liesmith (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 01:25 PM

9. It's the inherent danger of launching the fusion products into orbit and having a launch failure...

Which has long been the objection.

Those products could potentially fall back to Earth and cause a wide spread radiation spillage. A big old dirty bomb.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hugin (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 01:32 PM

10. That's certainly an objection (an overblown one, IMHO) to launching fission products. But fusion?

Helium-3 and deuterium aren't radioactive.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dial H For Hero (Reply #10)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 01:39 PM

11. You've got to get the reaction started.

The only thing (outside of science fiction) to accomplish that is fission.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hugin (Reply #11)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 02:22 PM

13. While fusion bombs do indeed have fission triggers, as far as I know (and again, correct me if I'm

wrong), fusion reactors will have no such trigger.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dial H For Hero (Reply #13)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 02:37 PM

14. I'm not sure where all of the Helium-3 is going to come from...

"Virtually all helium-3 used in industry today is produced from the radioactive decay of tritium, given its very low natural abundance and its very high cost.
Production, sales and distribution of helium-3 in the United States are managed by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Isotope Program.
While tritium has several different experimentally determined values of its half-life, NIST lists 4,500 ± 8 days (12.32 ± 0.02 years). It decays into helium-3 by beta decay."

Ooo... Beta decay. Tritium is dirty, radioactive, and essential to having enough He-3 to fill a thimble.

I'd much rather get a Hydrogen economy going. Fuel cells and/or recombining it with O2 to form H2O. Much cleaner.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hugin (Reply #14)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 03:04 PM

15. Lunar mining, presumably.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hugin (Reply #14)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 03:05 PM

16. Mine the moon.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Loki Liesmith (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 03:42 PM

18. See #17; the government policy is about fission, not fusion (nt)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #18)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 03:58 PM

20. But the article is almost entirely about fusion drives

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Loki Liesmith (Reply #20)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 04:41 PM

21. Yeah, the "article" is a press release from a company that thinks it can make a fusion reactor

and puts imaginary numbers on how marvellous they are (in reality, they can't put any proper numbers on them, because they haven't made a working one yet). This is just a bit of PR to push up a share price or two (it actually says "fission uses a fuel that is scarce, expensive, and hazardous" ).

The government policy is about fission, and some development of radioisotope generators too.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Towlie (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 12:31 PM

6. Please don't promote this 'nuclear paranoia'.

This is nonsense. Educate yourself.
I worked in the nuclear waste field (computer modeling) for most of my career.
There is too much hyperbole out there with little or no scientific basis.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to triron (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 12:58 PM

7. Please don't stand up your straw man and knock it back down.

 


I'm talking about how politicians like to legislate technology into existence. We've seen it with legislation that required cars to meet certain emission standards by specific deadlines even though the technology to achieve it didn't yet exist.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Towlie (Reply #7)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 01:21 PM

8. In fairness, you did bring up speculation of a fusion powered ship making the atmosphere radioactive

And while the article you later linked did speak of such engines producing less radioactivity than a fission reactor, this is (correct me if I'm wrong) ionizing radiation such as gamma rays. This cannot make the atmosphere radioactive, in contrast to the operation and/or catastrophic failure of a fission reactor.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dial H For Hero (Reply #8)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 03:42 PM

17. No; the *government* policy includes fission reactors

You've given us the January press release from a company which reckons it can make a fusion reactor. But the December government announcement, which is what "legislating" is about, is about fission (perhaps fusion too, but it doesn't mention it):

President Donald J. Trump is Establishing America’s National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power
and Propulsion

...
Nuclear reactors generate energy through nuclear fission, typically of uranium fuel.
...
Space Policy Directive – 6
 For modest power needs, radioisotopic thermal generators—which are essentially nuclear batteries—can
use the energy of radioactive decay to generate electricity for decades. For higher power needs, small
nuclear reactors can provide heating, electricity, and spacecraft propulsion. SNPP systems can enable
spacecraft, and rovers and other surface systems, to operate in environments where other energy sources
are inadequate. SNPP systems can also shorten transit times for crewed and robotic spacecraft, thereby
reducing radiation exposure from harsh space environments.
...
The United States will pursue goals for SNPP development and utilization that are both enabling and
ambitious:
o Develop capabilities that enable production of fuel suitable to a range of planetary surface and inspace SNPP applications;
o Demonstrate a fission power system on the Moon;
o Establish technical foundations and capabilities that will enable options for in-space nuclear
propulsion;
...

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Fact-Sheet-Space-Policy-Directive-6.pdf

So this is not "nuclear paranoia", in terms of worrying about fissile material in an accident.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #17)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 03:53 PM

19. Fair enough.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dial H For Hero (Original post)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 11:49 AM

2. Good

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dial H For Hero (Original post)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 01:42 PM

12. It's the "safe and effective" part that should concern us...

We'll eventually have to do something. Current chemical rockets and energy hogs and extreme polluters. We need a better way to get into orbit.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread