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USA Department of Energy enthuses about Highly Enriched Uranium in space. Not everyone agrees

As I’ve mentioned before on this site, the oh so confident macho nuclear enthusiasts don’t need to do precautions, even though USA is in the thick of the pandemic. Only the 2 token women have the brains to wear masks.

US Ramps Up Planning for Space Nuclear Technology  AIP,  31 July 20, NASA and the Department of Energy are expanding their collaboration as part of a broader White House push to develop nuclear power systems for space applications. The initiative comes as NASA faces key decisions on what fuel sources and technology development paths to pursue.

As NASA launched its Perseverance rover to Mars yesterday, senior officials from the Department of Energy were at Cape Canaveral to see it off. Perseverance is the first mission to launch since the Curiosity rover in 2011 that is powered by the radioactive isotope plutonium-238, which is manufactured in DOE facilities.

Now, NASA, DOE, and the White House want nuclear power to play a much larger role in space exploration as plans take shape for a sustained human presence on the Moon and subsequent crewed journeys to Mars……….

The American Nuclear Society hosted a debate on the topic at its annual meeting in June. While the society has generally supported the use of space nuclear power and propulsion in the past, it has decided to develop a position statement by spring 2021 on whether to favor the use of LEU.

Among the participants was Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), a former Fermilab physicist, who argued that proceeding with HEU  (  Highly Enriched Uranium) would set a dangerous precedent. “If all of the spacefaring nations start using HEU reactors in space, then this would involve utilization of a significant amount of weapons grade material,” he remarked…….

Alan Kuperman, a policy scholar affiliated with the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project, pointed to U.S. efforts since the 1970s to minimize the use of HEU in civilian applications, arguing they are “based on the logic of no exceptions.”

“If we say, ‘well, we’re going to have exceptions,’ then other countries are going to say, ‘well, we want exceptions too,’ and then the whole thing falls apart,” he remarked……..

August 1, 2020 - Posted by | space travel, USA

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