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Grand space travel plans – to rescue USA’s collapsing nuclear industry?

US plans to send nuclear reactors to space,  Rt.com 19 Aug, 2019  Despite the nuclear industry stumbling in the domestic United States, the country is looking to put nuclear reactors on Mars and the Moon.

While the nuclear energy industry is struggling to stay afloat in the United States, bogged down by public and political mistrust, crushing nuclear waste-maintenance costs, and a market flooded by cheap natural gas, the country has grand plans for nuclear power outside of its domestic borders. Way outside.

In just a few short years from now, the United States will be shipping nuclear reactors to the moon and Mars. According to team members from the Kilopower project, a collaborative venture from NASA and the United States Department of Energy, nuclear energy is just a few years from heading into the space age.

“The Kilopower project is a near-term technology effort to develop preliminary concepts and technologies that could be used for an affordable fission nuclear power system to enable long-duration stays on planetary surfaces,” says NASA’s “Space Technology Mission Directorate.” In layman’s terms, the focus of the Kilopower project is to use an experimental fission reactor to power crewed outposts on the moon and Mars, allowing researchers and scientists to stay and work for much longer durations of time than is currently possible. …..

[ NASA says] The potential of this demonstration would be to “pave the way for future Kilopower systems that power human outposts on the Moon and Mars, enabling mission operations in harsh environments and missions that rely on In-situ Resource Utilization to produce local propellants and other materials.”

While this is not the first time that nuclear energy is being used to power pursuits into the final frontier, the Kilopower project is a much more ambitious and powerful project than any of its predecessors. According to Space.com, “nuclear energy has been powering spacecraft for decades. NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, New Horizons spacecraft, and Curiosity Mars rover, along with many other robotic explorers, employ radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), which convert the heat thrown off by the radioactive decay of plutonium-238 into electricity.” ….. https://www.rt.com/business/466790-us-space-nuclear-reactors/

August 20, 2019 - Posted by | space travel, USA

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