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Nuclear Power in Space?

Should we use nuclear power in space?

  • Yes, let's go nuclear!

    Votes: 6 75.0%
  • No nukes!

    Votes: 2 25.0%

  • Total voters
    8

Wayne Smith

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Real spaceships must use nuclear power. It's the only practical way of exploring and colonising space. Fission fragment, nuclear salt water, gas core and other exotic reactor type engines are being researched for future missions in light of the Bush administrations new nuclear space initiative. But there is another option that was available to us generations ago and remains to this day the only engine affording both very high thrust and Isp. A single stage launcher which could reach Pluto and back inside of a year. A simple design that can even be scaled up to starship configurations.

The concept is known as Nuclear Pulse Rocketry and its feasibility was proven beyond the doubt of the top minds who worked on Project Orion for the 7 years it was financed by the airforce, army and NASA. The initial plan called for manned missions to Mars by 1965 and Saturn by 1970. Jerry Pournelle who was aquainted with the project leader Freeman Dyson is quoted as saying that a large permanent moon base could have been established in a single mission! Back in the 1960's they were working on fission pulse units to bomb around the solar system. Today we can entertain the option of thermonuclear fusion. While steady fusion may turn out to be a pipedream, the science of hydrogen bombs is well proven and developed. We can nuke our way to the stars if we want to. We can also colonise the solar system in style and that would be a nice prelude to serious star travel. Either that or sit on our hands and hope something better comes along.

Its already been 36 years since we went to the moon. Me? I'm tired of waiting. I don't believe anything remotely practical will come along that isn't nuclear. Technological advancement requires hands on engineering and competition. We didn't go from steam engines to Ferrari's on a drawing board! We have to use what we have and hope its a stepping stone to increasingly more impressive generations of vehicles. The alternative is to do nothing but wish for some perfect concept that may never materialise. Atleast not until the window of opportunity is lost. How long advanced civilisations capable of spaceflight endure for is a question open to much conjectural debate. Our societies are quite fragile really and our high technology requires a large specialised workforce to maintain it. We may even lose our lust for space. If there was ever enough determination to begin with.

The Hollywood fearmongers and military warmongers have given nuclear technology a well deserved bad name but we must remember that ALL technology is a two edged sword. Over 10,000 people die every year from coal burning and one in four kids now have asthma as a direct result of coal burning particles. In fact not many people realise that Uranium and Thorium exist in coal beds. It gets burned up with all the other nasty toxins and CO2 then pumped straight into the atmosphere. Ironically a coal plant produces much more radiation than a nuclear plant. Over one million people die every year from automobiles too. Nobody died last year from nuclear energy and an Orion launch would cause zero fatalities according to independant studies but ignorance is often stronger than reason. Especially in democracies where the masses vote according to which politician can put on the most sincere looking smile.

Radiation risk is still measured by the Linear Non-Threshold hypothesis. A theory dreamed up by some fool with absolutely no evidence whatsover to back up his daydream. It works like this: if 200 degrees temperature is enough to kill you then logically 20 degrees will kill 10% of your body. Right? Ofcourse not. It's utter garbage but thats how radiation risks and fatalities are calculated despite ever increasing evidence to the contrary.

Radiation Hormesis research has shown that low to medium doses of radiation are not only harmless and indeed beneficial but in fact 'essential' to life on earth.

So the only thing keeping us from the stars is probably our own stupidity.

We can't keep weapons out of space. Even a rocket doubles as a missile. We have to be realistic. We all want a united world but under what banner? What is the unifying goal that will bring about world peace? We could try conquering the universe. There is enough resources out there to go around. For quite some time in fact. Our kids deserve to have the opportunity.
 

superskippy

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Got to say you present a good case, I agree :smile: ,

Do you have any link's to more info on the subject it's pretty interesting. Especially the stuff about Pulse Rocketry to travel the stars.
 

Wayne Smith

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Schweddy

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I think I read somewhere that magnetic pulses can get spaceships traveling faster than ever. The problem is the long wait until we can get them into space to prove it with large objects. Some small canned experiments have been made in space already.

If this is a true solution, it would be cheaper and easier to implement - no?
 
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This is a really bad idea..if one of these were to explode we have no idea how it will react because there are an infinite number chemical compounds etc in space that we know nothing about.
 

Wayne Smith

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That's the best thing about NPR. No atomic bomb has ever accidentally detonated. Even if it somehow did, this wouldn't trigger the others. They are very hard to detonate. It requires a special sequence of events.

Big fireworks are unreliable. One in ten launches fail for some reason. We've already lost two shuttles.

Outer space is composed of 1 or 2 atoms of hydrogen per square metre and a lot of radiation. We won't hurt it.

Magnetic pulses? Nukes create electromagnetic pulses. ICANN is a proposal for a magnetic conefinement field instead of a pusher. It would use anti-matter instead of fission for the fusion trigger.

The Case for Orion
SpaceDaily.com
 
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Wayne Smith said:
That's the best thing about NPR. No atomic bomb has ever accidentally detonated. Even if it somehow did, this wouldn't trigger the others. They are very hard to detonate. It requires a special sequence of events.

Big fireworks are unreliable. One in ten launches fail for some reason. We've already lost two shuttles.

Outer space is composed of 1 or 2 atoms of hydrogen per square metre and a lot of radiation. We won't hurt it.

Magnetic pulses? Nukes create electromagnetic pulses. ICANN is a proposal for a magnetic conefinement field instead of a pusher. It would use anti-matter instead of fission for the fusion trigger.

The Case for Orion
SpaceDaily.com

As far as we know..but suppose one of them broke off and impacted into an asteroid, meteor, star, planet, etc.. who's composition is unknown and it exploded. It could be harmless or it could be disasterous. Besides, navigating space is virtually impossible..you'd have to pass through two asteroid belts, worry about meteor showers, amoung other things. I doubt a vessle would survive and the crew would be dead by the time they reached an unexplored area of space. Mars? LOL..we can barely land a rover on it let alone send a manned space craft.
 

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they now have good scientific basis a space elevator. Interesting stuff...
 

Wayne Smith

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As far as we know..but suppose one of them broke off and impacted into an asteroid, meteor, star, planet, etc.. who's composition is unknown and it exploded.

Supposing it did?

It could be harmless or it could be disasterous.

Why?

Besides, navigating space is virtually impossible..

Us Apes have already worked that out. Roboted probes have already been sent as pathfinders.

you'd have to pass through two asteroid belts, worry about meteor showers, amoung other things. I doubt a vessle would survive and the crew would be dead by the time they reached an unexplored area of space.

Life is not about elliminating all risk. It would definately be an adventure. We would want the best ship possible. Rugged, simple and heavy. A ground or sea launched Orion of about 100,000 tons without payload would open the door.

Mars? LOL..we can barely land a rover on it let alone send a manned space craft.

I know. Remember when that little Tonker Toy got stuck in it's own landing shroud! Hilarious. I think it covered about a metre a day or something like that. The Nuclear Viking Landers operated for years rather than weeks. They weighed 600 kilo's. We just have to think bigger. Nuclear energy is a million times as powerful as unreliable unstable chemical propellants. More bang for the buck. No super-light alloys and other weight saving decisions necessary. An Orion could lift it's own mass in additional payload. Just one launch and we could have all the industrial infrastructure out there required for mining and refining space resources. Asteroid's, dead comet's, europa etc.

they now have good scientific basis a space elevator. Interesting stuff...

Yep. That's the latest pipedream. Give it a hundred years or more and maybe it'll work. On Mars. Earth's gravity well is too big. What I do like about bootstrapping is the potential for stealing inertia from passing Oort cloud objects. Very long ropes required for something like that. A big heavy ship like an Orion would be good balast. Transplutonium planets, proto-stars, dwarfs and black holes would give great gravity assists but smaller stuff could be swung around spiderman style. Ofcourse we'd have to develop our nav tech.
 
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Wayne Smith said:
Supposing it did?



Why?



Us Apes have already worked that out. Roboted probes have already been sent as pathfinders.



Life is not about elliminating all risk. It would definately be an adventure. We would want the best ship possible. Rugged, simple and heavy. A ground or sea launched Orion of about 100,000 tons without payload would open the door.



I know. Remember when that little Tonker Toy got stuck in it's own landing shroud! Hilarious. I think it covered about a metre a day or something like that. The Nuclear Viking Landers operated for years rather than weeks. They weighed 600 kilo's. We just have to think bigger. Nuclear energy is a million times as powerful as unreliable unstable chemical propellants. More bang for the buck. No super-light alloys and other weight saving decisions necessary. An Orion could lift it's own mass in additional payload. Just one launch and we could have all the industrial infrastructure out there required for mining and refining space resources. Asteroid's, dead comet's, europa etc.



Yep. That's the latest pipedream. Give it a hundred years or more and maybe it'll work. On Mars. Earth's gravity well is too big. What I do like about bootstrapping is the potential for stealing inertia from passing Oort cloud objects. Very long ropes required for something like that. A big heavy ship like an Orion would be good balast. Transplutonium planets, proto-stars, dwarfs and black holes would give great gravity assists but smaller stuff could be swung around spiderman style. Ofcourse we'd have to develop our nav tech.

I dare anyone to attempt to harnass the power of a black hole :lol: In my opinion a large observatory should have been built on the moon years ago. Since there's no atmosphere it would be perfect..saive the space debris, meteors, and comets :lol: . We have a great deal of technological advancement to make before venturing into space..heck it's difficult to keep the space station together let alone a space ship passing through the Kuiper belt.
 

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Nukes are a great idea but at what point will the nuke be set off(if I got this right), because the radioactive debris would fall to earth. If I would have to pick one of these ideas posted above it would be the nukes. The space elevator is a dream, so why not use teleporters like in Star Trek? http://archives.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/auspac/06/17/aust.startrek/
 

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no it was a dream, but I recently read an article on how they've realized taht using new carbon nanotechnology, they can create cables 6 times less dense than steel cables yet 70 times as strong. They said such values are three times what are needed for a theoretical space elevator cable...Of course there are problems of weather, terrorism, building the apparatus. But they said that using newly created designs, a space elevator could carry much more weight for much less power.

Hey Its one step closer to making this dream a reality
 

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nkgupta80 said:
no it was a dream, but I recently read an article on how they've realized taht using new carbon nanotechnology, they can create cables 6 times less dense than steel cables yet 70 times as strong. They said such values are three times what are needed for a theoretical space elevator cable...Of course there are problems of weather, terrorism, building the apparatus. But they said that using newly created designs, a space elevator could carry much more weight for much less power.

Hey Its one step closer to making this dream a reality
I would like to know where you got this because i want to know how long the carbon cable will last without maintance, and if there is a plan for a docking station.
 

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There are an estimated 50 million wandering black holes in our galaxy. You only see them when they eat and emit x-rays. Simply gravity assist like we use for probes swinging by jupiter.
 

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I would like to know where you got this because i want to know how long the carbon cable will last without maintance, and if there is a plan for a docking station.

i was reading this in some recent IEEE spectrum magazine. They addressed the fact that this carbon cable could corrode in the air, so they would add some coating to prevent it.


i found a similar online article that doesn't go into as much detail:
http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/space_elevator_020327-1.html
 

Wayne Smith

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Life always goes on doesn't it. While we are talking about these dangerous ropes instead of dangerous bombs our planet could be hit by a falling rock. It happens. A lot of things happen that are bad. Rarely can we accurately predict them or take preventative action. I can imagine two guys crawling out of a limestone cave after the shaking earth has settled a little.
"Wow, that was pretty bad!"
The other replies.
"Yeah, but hey, what are the chances of it ever happening again!"

Life evolves to deal with threats to it's well being. Those it can register with it's senses. More longterm dangers sometimes get under our radar. What we can't see we have trouble appreciating. The dinosaurs were finished off by a major cosmic event after super volcano erruptions had already shrunk or destroyed many species.

We humans are now dabbling in genetic design, fusion and myriad other potentially devastating sciences. Sooner or later we will wipe ourselves out in some fashion. Perhaps it will be a convergence of different armageddon style impacts on our way of life. Whether it's civilisation, humanity or the entire earth that is destroyed, we will lose our window of opportunity. As we grow and our science expands, we will respond to the shrinking world with more and more prohibition. We ban nukes, cloning, landmines etc etc etc. Regulations and new laws upon an already choked legal system. We have to start looking at the bigger picture.

Humanity has reached the stage where it is smart enough to conquer the stars. That is to say, we have the technology. Superstitious fears of the unknown have a good biological basis but these trials of fire we put technology through must be logical. We have to think ahead. Nuclear power is no more evil than any other technology. We must get used to the fact that the potential works both ways.

Our planet is cooking itself. We must change over to commercial nuclear energy instead of fossil fuels. We have to expand. Baby birds who don't leave the nest get eaten. We can't afford to stay here arguing with the other siblings. There is a whole universe out there. It's reasonably young and we don't really know what's out there. Eventually we will encounter other apex predators like ourselves. Survival is a numbers game. We can stay here on this rock, stepping on one another's toes and probably ending up dead from our own clever ingeniousness or we can become a player in this universe.

Let's stop pretending we are likely alone. This universe is probably infested with life. Stagnation or the Stars? Orion is the key.
 

Wayne Smith

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To launch the first space elevator, we will necessarily have to rely on rockets.
From theLiftport Group.
Space Elevator Message Board.

I'm only talking about one Orion launch. That's how good a big practical Orion launch would be for us. In contrast it would take thousands of dirty fireworks like NASA is using to achieve the same result. Look at how difficult and crazily expensive it was to put up that unfinished bundle of used boosters and old solar panels we call the 'International Space Station'. It's already billions over budget or is it trillions?

The post finishes with this line.

Again, whoever controls the first space elevator, will control space!

I often say the same thing about Orion. What we both mean to say is that whoever gets a serious permanent foothold in space first has the earth effectively surrounded and conquered. Rockets are naked to attack during ascent. It's the old military dictum of taking the high ground taken to it's very extreme. Those who play 'Go' will probably understand what I mean. You surround your enemies piece and it is dead. This is the goal of the US and China. To create an integrated space defence system. The best form of defence being attack. The one who gets it first wins. It may not be either of these two players. Orion is the poor mans spaceship in many ways. A nuclear stockpile could be rapidly tured into fuel for it. Once launched it would be unstoppable. Whether it chose to nudge asteroids into a nation or simply drop continent busting nukes on our heads. This is not science fiction. I'd prefer to see an international Orion program. Everybody wants to be a winner. This technology is dangerous but incredibly powerful if we use it in the right way. It will get used eventually unless we wipe ourselves out along the way. It is the ultimate launch system. A real spaceship like we imagined them.
 
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