Author Topic: Nasa to go nuclear  (Read 159 times)

Woodrow

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Nasa to go nuclear
« on: January 22, 2003, 03:18:06 PM »
By Dr David Whitehouse

President Bush is set to endorse using nuclear power to explore Mars and open up the outer Solar System.

He is expected to back the US space agency's recent nuclear propulsion initiative, Project Prometheus, either in his State of the Union speech, due on 28 January, or later this year when he submits his 2004 budget to Congress.

It is believed he will give the initiative $1bn over five years, arguing that nuclear propulsion represents an essential technology for the manned and unmanned exploration of space.

Supporters say nuclear power could change the nature of space exploration, but add that it will take many years and significant resources to develop.

'New vistas'

Jim Garvin, Nasa's lead scientist for Mars Exploration, told BBC News Online that the space agency was very committed to "pursuing a vision in which access to unexplored territories in the Universe is possible" and that included "technology to open up new vistas and approaches".

Central to this new approach is the agency's Nuclear Systems Initiative (NSI) which was launched last year following comments made by Nasa's chief, Sean O'Keefe, that nuclear propulsion was the only way to explore deep space and send astronauts to Mars.

O'Keefe is reported to have said to the Los Angeles Times: "We're talking about doing something on a very aggressive schedule to not only develop the capabilities for nuclear propulsion and power generation but to have a mission using the new technology within this decade."

However, Nasa public relations officials have played down this statement.

Nuclear propulsion is theoretically capable of achieving much faster speeds than conventional rockets using far less fuel.

Stolen fire

The technology was studied in the 1950s and 1960s in initiatives such as Project Orion, but it was subsequently neglected, partly for political (1963 nuclear test-ban treaty) and financial reasons.

However, a space advocacy group, the Planetary Society, has said: "In the long run, nuclear power and propulsion will likely be needed for missions to carry humans to Mars and back."

Using current rocket technology, it would take at least six months to cruise to the Red Planet.

Project Prometheus - named after the Greek god who stole fire and gave it to man - could cut this travel time to two months.

Advocates say that the nuclear option would make a manned Mars mission much easier, as it would reduce the need to carry so much food, fuel and oxygen, as well as relying on yet to be perfected recycling technology.

Distant moons

Nuclear power would also mean that Martian launch windows would be longer, allowing a more flexible choice of launch and return times, leading to a manned landing mission that could last as little as three or four months, as opposed to about three years.

Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society and author of The Case For Mars told BBC News Online: "The decision by Nasa to revive its nuclear rocket development programme is a tremendously positive step that will greatly enhance the prospects for human exploration and settlement of the Solar System.

"Nuclear power reactors are essential for Mars base surface power, where they provide the power for reliable life support, ultra-high data-rate communications, and the in-situ production of ascent and return propellants, thereby increasing mission science return and cutting launch costs even more."

Nuclear power could also revolutionise the unmanned exploration of the outer Solar System.

Expected opposition

Current rocket technology does not allow a spaceprobe to reach distant Pluto and go into orbit around it - only a flyby is possible.

Chemical rockets also make it very difficult to get a probe to orbit such significant bodies as Jupiter's ice-crusted moon, Europa, a possible abode of life, or Titan, Saturn's major moon.

But it is inevitable that the development of the new propulsion systems will spark controversy from anti-nuclear groups.

They opposed the launching of Nasa's Cassini probe to Saturn in 1997. The spacecraft uses plutonium to generate electricity for its onboard instruments.

They feared a launch failure or an accidental re-entry could have led to widespread contamination.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2684329.stm
 

Woodrow

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Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2003, 03:18:55 PM »
Haw haw haw! Take that China!   ;)

But really, I think this is a great idea and would open up space exploration to a whole new generation of people.
 

Entreri117

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Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2003, 03:47:51 PM »
Haw haw haw! Take that China!   ;)

But really, I think this is a great idea and would open up space exploration to a whole new generation of people.

Isn't China like 10 years ahead of us technology wise?  They probably are nearing that technology COMPLETION.  Only difference is, they don't go public.

I think it's a great idea.  Space travel time would be cut in half or more...the future is now...
« Last Edit: January 22, 2003, 03:48:30 PM by Xear0 »
 

bLaDe

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Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2003, 03:54:14 PM »
Haw haw haw! Take that China!   ;)

But really, I think this is a great idea and would open up space exploration to a whole new generation of people.

Isn't China like 10 years ahead of us technology wise?  They probably are nearing that technology COMPLETION.  Only difference is, they don't go public.

I think it's a great idea.  Space travel time would be cut in half or more...the future is now...

Really?  Isn't Finland the most technologically advanced country in the world, and the others include U.S., Sweden, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, the U.K., Canada etc...

Anyway I think its a cool idea, I have always been somewaht interested in space exploration, peace

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Entreri117

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Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2003, 03:59:01 PM »
Space exploration is a MUST for humans.

We need to find another habitable planet, because in my opinion, in 40 years or so, Earth will be overpopulated.  I also think in about 50 years the ozone layer will be totally wiped out...then we're FUCKED!
 

Entreri117

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Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2003, 03:59:55 PM »
Hey Engel Rock...wut happened to all ur posts?
 

bLaDe

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Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2003, 04:02:52 PM »
Hey Engel Rock...wut happened to all ur posts?

I beleive he got them reset, so he wouldnt be able to give people bad karma, cuz he thought people diss him cuz they think he gives them bad karma or sumting lol ... *hits engles props buttin*

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verbalassaulta

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Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2003, 06:13:36 PM »
i agree that we must explore space...the earth isnt goonna be around forever
 

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Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2003, 09:10:51 AM »
Space exploration is a MUST for humans.

We need to find another habitable planet, because in my opinion, in 40 years or so, Earth will be overpopulated.  I also think in about 50 years the ozone layer will be totally wiped out...then we're FUCKED!

Actually the hole in the Ozone layer has got slightly smaller recently.
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Trauma-san

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Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2003, 09:35:11 AM »
Space exploration is a MUST for humans.

We need to find another habitable planet, because in my opinion, in 40 years or so, Earth will be overpopulated.  I also think in about 50 years the ozone layer will be totally wiped out...then we're FUCKED!

I say if we're stupid enough to destroy our planet, we should all suffer the consequences, and burn to death by our own stupidity.  
 

Don Seer

Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2003, 10:05:00 AM »
naww rich people will escape to exclusive biodomes from which they cant escape when earth goes tits up and mutate into space monsters... mwahahah


btw. i think i might see the first birth in space before i die...
 

Trauma-san

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Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2003, 10:38:07 AM »
I like them exploring space but i'm totally against any kind of colonization plans, too expensive and useless.  
 

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Re:Nasa to go nuclear
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2003, 02:00:38 PM »



I say if we're stupid enough to destroy our planet, we should all suffer the consequences, and burn to death by our own stupidity.  

LOL....

*gives Trauma a props*
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- Lewis Carroll