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Bush approves NASA's nuclear manned rocket!

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by peter2002, Jan 16, 2003.

  1. macrumors 6502


    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".


    Mars in 2 months? Sounds great. This would give NASA and the USA a lot of prestige. Lets hope everything pans out over the next 10 years. Much research still needs to be done.

    Pete :)
  2. macrumors 604


    It's about time we took the next step in space travel. People are so hung up about sending nuclear stuff into space. Most people believe that they can't. The truth is they have been doing it for years. Nuclear batteries and all.
  3. macrumors 6502a


    now if we can just keep from sending our petty wars and "greed above all" corporate attitude up there, we'll be set. it'd be a shame to mess up other planets the same way we've done ours.
  4. macrumors 65816


    Oh my goodness! Really! I have been waiting forever for them to do it! peter2002, you are better than google news! If you keep on posting all of these excliamative posts, you might put web news sites out of buisness! Maybe you should include web ads on your posts!

    I can't stand Bush, but I would approve it also. It probaby isn't using fission, but hydrogen. Like the Sun, you know. Chemical Engines are much less efficent when compared to Nuclear Engines. The idea for this has been around since before Carl Sagan wrote Cosmos. Go and pick up a copy from the Library and look at the section on space travel. I think that the name is even the same. This is an old idea. It just so happens that the time that Nasa wants to really do it conicides with the Bush presidency.
  5. macrumors 6502

  6. macrumors 68000


    Too late, dude. The militarization of space is this administration's specific goal. Despite all the mars mumbo-jumbo talk, this is really what it's all about. I expect we'll see a full-fledged deployment of Space Marines or Space Force within our lifetime. Satellite technology as we know it is going to have to change - it'd be so easy to shoot down a satellite now - the trajectories are all well known. Yeah, man, Stealth Satellites that can perform evasive maneuvers, that's what I'm talkin' about!
  7. macrumors regular



    Nuclear powered rocketry has been the forlorn hope of every areospace engineering student told to design a mission that'll reach the kuiper belt. Quite simply, this will change the face of humanity's ability to traverse space.

    That, and HighLift's space elevator, of course:

  8. macrumors 6502

    Space Marines...

    Space Marines...


    The few, the proud, the Space Marines. Where do I sign-up?

    Pete :D
  9. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Its not that we haven't had the technology to do it, its the fact that we've signed treaties not to 'explode' nuclear weapons in space. Nuclear propulsion is basically making small nukes explode at the rear of the space craft - propelling it up to very high speeds and taking up significantly less space in fuel.

    This will mean that we're going to break the treaty - should be interesting to see what happens.

  10. macrumors 6502

    Its not that we haven't had the technology to do it, its the fact that we've signed treaties not to 'explode' nuclear weapons in space.

    Bush withdrew the USA from the Ballistic Missle Treaty, "Start 1", last year over protests from Russia. The USA is free to use nukes to our hearts desire.

  11. macrumors 604


    Just because we are no longer part of the treaty doesn't mean there isn't consequences for using nukes and testing etc..
  12. macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

    It's not fusion. The technology to create nuclear fusion isn't here yet. We can fuse hydrogen into helium, but it takes more energy to do it than we get out of it. It's fission. The same thing that powers aircraft carriers and submarines.
  13. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    It will probably be like what I stated earlier, exploding small nukes at the rear of the spacecraft to get up to speed. If you make it a pulsed nuke thrust system it will get you up to speeds unmatched by todays standards, even more than the ion engines.

  14. macrumors 65816


    And what the hell happens if there's an accident on liftoff? Tons of radioactive material strewn across a large area - more than likely populated - making it uninhabitable for decades to come.

    And the fact about changing the face of space travel - I doubt whether it would be feasible to create controlled nuclear explosions behind a spacecraft. Other types of technology are yet to be employed that could give a much safer solution - a ramjet system, or even a solar sail, could generate a surprising amount of thrust that could be used for space flight - and be used safely.

    Also, Kip Thorne and Stephen Hawking have already laid the ground rules for the prospect of "warping", or folding space. All that you need is a highly efficient (more than 95%) and constant source of energy - such as a fusion reactor.

    It's irresponsible to think that the use of a nuclear fission reaction would be a sensible option for this form of travel. The Japanese have come along in leaps and bounds over the last 20 or so years in the development of a truly efficient form of fusion energy - why not examine their methods and work together on a solution for cleaner, more economical and safer power? That would be a much more interesting approach to solving the problem of the demise of fossil fuels - and the strategy could be incorporated for use in the space program to create nice warp bubbles, Star Trek-style.
  15. macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

    Warp propulsion is a half-century to a century away. Efficient fusion is several years away.

    Fission power has been tested and it works. If there's an accident on liftoff, the safety system will probably eject the plutonium fuel in a sealed container and it'll be recovered with no damage, like the Black Box they have in airliners.
  16. macrumors 68040

    The fact is that no progress is ever made by this species unless it is in the name of money or military. Militarizing space is going to be the first real step in space exploration, that will be followed by business ventures. As much as you may not like it, greed is a necessary evil.
  17. macrumors 6502a


    greed is a necessary evil as long as we allow it to be.:)
  18. macrumors 65816


    I don't think so, Phil. Remember the Challenger disaster? I doubt whether there would be much debris left bigger than a dinner plate if there were to be a catastrophe on take-off - considering the propulsion system would be created by a series of controlled thermonuclear explosions...
  19. macrumors 65816


    Um... Actually we can fuse hydrogen into helium. We can not do it in a building or ship efficently enough to justify its use for power, but that does not mean we could not use it in space, where the conditions (lack of "gravity"), not needing to contain the effects into a small area.

    And look what a quick google news search turns up:
    http://www.space.com/php/multimedia...e major elements of a nuclear thermal rocket (NTR)%20engine.%20Click%20to%20enlarge.

    Notice the tanks that say Li2, that would be lithium. Makes sense to me, only slightly heavier than hydrogen, and not likely to explode.

    We already use small fission piles to provide power to interstellar probes. They actually design them so that they can survive crashing into earth intact. It would cause more physical damage than anything else.

    Believe me, I know about Nuclear Power. I was a Nuclear Reactor Operator onboard a submarine. I know that fission reactors make no sense whatsoever for anything more than generating electricity by taking advantage of the heat generated by the decay of the very heavy core. On a spaceship, how the heck do you think you could use fission for propulsion?
  20. macrumors 65816


    Umm. no on two counts.
    1. http://www.flybynews.com/archives/ref/ianusreg.htm#technology
    Safety Design

    More than 30 years have been invested in the engineering, safety analysis and testing of RTGs. Safety features are incorporated into the RTG's design, and extensive testing has demonstrated that they can withstand physical conditions more severe than those expected from most accidents.

    First, the fuel is in the heat-resistant, ceramic form of plutonium dioxide, which reduces its chance of vaporizing in fire or reentry environments. This ceramic-form fuel is also highly insoluble, has a low chemical reactivity, and primarily fractures into large, non-respirable particles and chunks. These characteristics help to mitigate the potential health effects from accidents involving the release of this fuel.

    Second, the fuel is divided among 18 small, independent modular units, each with its own heat shield and impact shell. This design reduces the chances of fuel release in an accident because all modules would not be equally impacted in an accident.

    Third, multiple layers of protective materials, including iridium capsules and high-strength graphite blocks, are used to protect the fuel and prevent its accidental release. Iridium is a metal that has a very high melting point and is strong, corrosion resistant and chemically compatible with plutonium dioxide. These characteristics make iridium useful for protecting and containing each fuel pellet. Graphite is used because it is lightweight and highly heat-resistant." [ESTEC/b](4)

    2. Read above
  21. macrumors 65816


    Well - I'm lucky that I use a forum where I can learn so much, and show how wrong I can be! Thanks Pete!


    I was intrigued to read about the Soviet RORSAT programme - and alarmed to see how they were powered. Talk about an irresponsible attitude. Two major accidents were highlighted by Zimmer in the article (by Kosmos 954 and Kosmos 1402), although details were scarce. It would be interesting to find out whether during the political climate of the then-Soviet Union any other accidents happened, which more than likely were swiftly covered-up (perhaps could be one reason why great "swathes" of Russian tundra are still uninhabited to this day...).
  22. macrumors 65816


    Yeah, because they should have built malls and highways across their entire country otherwise. It makes me glad that I live in the US where we know how to cut down forests and develop our natural resources and drill in the artic widlife refuge.[/sarcasm]
  23. macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

    If you think human inhabitation is a bad thing, why don't you burn down your house and commit suicide to help the Earth?
  24. macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

    They're not going to use H-bombs to propel the spacecraft. And after the Challenger disaster, they actually built ejection and escape systems. With radioactive materials, there's no doubt that they'd have a safe ejection system.
  25. macrumors 65816


    Umm, no thanks.

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