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Perils to austronauts’ health – high radiation and low gravity

High Radiation, Low Gravitation: The Perils of a Trip to Mars, Sunscreen and calcium supplements aren’t enough to protect Mars-bound space travelers from radiation and a lack of gravity in outer space.   July 23, 2021 – 17:00Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer   (Inside Science) — Back in May, SpaceX launched its Starship SN15 prototype to about the cruising altitude of a commercial airliner before landing it safely. The company claims future versions of the rocket will be able to take 100 passengers at a time to the moon, and even Mars.  

But while it’s one thing to send a rocket to Mars, it’s another to send people there alive. And it’s yet another thing to make sure the people can be as healthy as they were when they left Earth. 

Besides packing enough fuel and air and water and food for the seven-month-long journey to Mars (and more for a return trip if you want a return ticket), there are other luxuries we enjoy here on Earth that the spaceship will have to provide if we want to stay healthy during the long flight. 

Nasty sunburns and zero gravity

Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field protect us from harmful space radiation, but passengers bound for Mars will lose that protection. So, their spaceship would need to provide some kind of radiation shielding.

Depending on where radiation comes from, it may be made of different particles and have different energies, which would require different means of shielding and pose different levels of danger to our radiation-prone DNA. For example, radiations from energetic particles ejected from the sun behave very differently than cosmic rays from outside our galaxy. 

So, how many times more radiation would a Mars-bound astronaut experience compared to what they would experience on Earth? 

Enough to be of concern, according to Athanasios Petridis, a physicist from Drake University in Des Moines. According to calculations by his team, high-end estimates for radiation exposure during a round trip to Mars are in the range of several Sieverts (Sv). For reference, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has set 0.05 Sv/year as the dose limit for workers who are exposed to radiation at their jobs.

Solar weather also plays a role in the amount of radiation you would get in space. For instance, the 11-year solar cycle affects the amount of radiation the sun emits. However, due to the complicated interplay between sun-generated radiation and cosmic rays from outer space, it may not be worth it to time the launch around these cycles. 

“There are enough competing factors in radiation exposure that trying to plan around the solar cycle is like trying to time the stock market, which usually results in losing,” said Kerry Lee, a radiation analyst from NASA in Houston, Texas.

The lack of gravity can also wreak havoc on the human body given enough time. Astronauts aboard space stations have been shown to lose 1 to 1.5 % of the mineral density in their weight-bearing bones every month. They also tend to lose muscle mass, even when exercising as much as they do on Earth. ………..  https://www.insidescience.org/news/high-radiation-low-gravitation-perils-trip-mars

July 24, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, space travel | Leave a comment

Jeff Bezos and the corporate colonisation of the stars

Jeff Bezos goes to space but not everyone is celebrating, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, By Chris Zappone, July 23, 2021This week, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world and mastermind behind the retail giant Amazon, fulfilled a lifelong ambition and launched into space.

The New Shepard rocket, designed and built by his company, Blue Origin, blasted off from remote west Texas, taking Bezos, his younger brother Mark, Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen and female pioneer of the first space age Mary “Wally” Funk into a 10-minute sub-orbital journey. Bezos’ reusable rocket body returned autonomously to land upright on a launch pad……

Upon landing this week, Bezos — estimated to be worth $US205 billion ($280 billion) — said he had had the “best day ever”.

How does everyone else feel?

While Bezos believes in “going to space to benefit Earth”, his launch was met with as much derision as celebration. No one contested the technological accomplishment. Yet the optics of a billionaire whose fortune has been linked with harsh working conditions and monopolistic business practices fulfilling his personal dream during a raging pandemic triggered a rash of reactions. Bezos didn’t help his own cause by proclaiming: “I want to thank every Amazon employee and customer because you guys paid for this.”

Only last year, a US House Judiciary Committee probe into anti-trust behaviour declared: “Amazon’s pattern of exploiting sellers, enabled by its market dominance, raises serious competition concerns.” US Senator Elizabeth Warren was more pointed. After Blue Origin’s launch, she wrote: “Jeff Bezos forgot to thank all the hardworking Americans who actually paid taxes to keep this country running while he and Amazon paid nothing.”   Warren was not alone in voicing such sentiments.

Who is Jeff Bezos?

……….Optimised for profit, growth and speed, Amazon was increasingly called out for anti-competitive practices, demanding the lowest prices from suppliers and punishing those who sold their products cheaper elsewhere. As the technology got more complex, and the company grew more dominant, Amazon could better shape the competitive environment. Bezos even bought one of the most influential publications in the US, The Washington Post, in 2013. Meanwhile, the work pressure became so high in the anti-union company-operated warehouses that employees had to relieve themselves in bottles. Bezos stepped down as CEO this month but remains Amazon’s executive chairman and its largest shareholder.

Why does this week’s launch matter?

Billionaires are locked in a battle to build new space businesses. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight occurred nine days before Bezos’ launch. Meanwhile, the SpaceX business of fellow billionaire Elon Musk is upping the pace with its reusable Falcon 9 rockets, with 60 launches so far.

After the launch this week, he added: “This sounds fantastical, what I’m about to tell you, but it will happen. We can move all heavy industry and all polluting industry off of Earth and operate it in space.” The prospect of solving the problem of pollution by hoisting dirty industry into space sounds like science fiction.

What happens next?

The space business is set to grow, possibly more than tripling to $US1.4 trillion in the next 20 years on Morgan Stanley numbers. Expect the likes of Blue Origin and SpaceX to take a big bite of that apple. Yet even as space tourism and commercial launch services look set to flourish, public angst grows about inequality. Given the trajectory toward domination by companies like Amazon (and Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Google), Silicon Valley writing its own rules for space has generated some public concern.

Amazon and the tech giants have succeeded in part by growing quickly enough to shape the terms of the industry and overwhelming regulators. If governments can’t effectively regulate the billionaires’ companies or keep abreast of technology on Earth, what hope does the public have for a space that benefits them?

Houston-based Poppy Northcutt, who helped put humans on the moon as a rocket scientist with NASA during the Apollo program, says the billionaire-led space race would bring new worries. “Anyone who knows any of the history of the commercial [ventures] that led the early European exploration of the Indies, Africa, the Americas, Asia would have concerns,” she told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald……..

The question for Bezos, as for the public, will be whether we’re on the road to space colonies in orbit or a corporate colonisation of the stars.  https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/jeff-bezos-goes-to-space-why-not-everyone-is-celebrating-20210722-p58bzn.html

July 24, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, space travel | Leave a comment

Penis envy taken to extremes? Space billionaires and carbon emissions

Space tourism: environmental vandalism for the super

-rich  https://www.sgr.org.uk/resources/space-tourism-environmental-vandalism-super-rich
As billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson launch the first flights of their space tourism corporations, Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, takes a look at the climate impacts.

Responsible Science blog, 20 July 2021  The past few weeks have seen some frightening impacts of climate change – from record-breaking temperatures and major wildfires in western Canada and the USA to unprecedented floods in Germany and Belgium. The hottest temperature reliably recorded on the Earth’s surface – 54.4C – was logged in Death Valley in California on 9 July. [1] Scientists said the heatwave in Canada and the USA at the end of June was “virtually impossible” without human-induced climate change. [2] One thing that is especially striking is that these events are now happening in some of the wealthiest and weather-resilient nations of the world – but even that didn’t stop major death tolls.

The huge threat of global climate disruption is leading to ever more urgent calls for society to rapidly reduce its carbon emissions. It is also clear that technological change alone will not be enough to tackle the problem. A recent report by the Climate Change Committee – the UK government’s main advisory body on the issue – found that 62% of the necessary measures involve societal and behaviour change. [3] Avoiding air travel is one of the most effective changes individuals can make to cut this pollution. For example, the carbon footprint of a return flight from London to Hong Kong – seated in economy-class – is about 3.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) [4] – similar to a UK citizen’s average car use for over 10 months. [5] Research by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies indicates that a globally-sustainable lifestyle carbon footprint in 2020 was 3.9 tCO2e [6] – which gives a clear indication of just how much our society needs to reduce its impacts now (and this figure falls rapidly to 2.5t CO2e by 2030 and then much lower still for 2040 and 2050).

Against this backdrop, we have billionaires travelling in the inaugural flights of their space tourism corporations. On 11 July, Richard Branson flew in Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo craft, while on 20 July, Jeff Bezos travelled in Blue Origin’s New Shepard. These activities take the climate impacts of flying to considerably more damaging level.

Let’s look at the New Shepard space-craft. Prof Mike Berners-Lee of Lancaster University – a leading expert in carbon footprint analysis – has estimated that a single flight results in emissions of at least 330 tCO2e. [7] With four passengers, this means each one is responsible for over 82 tCO2e – over 20 times the sustainable level for a whole year! And note, this is a conservative estimate. It does not include the additional heating effects of emissions at high altitude, the carbon footprint of developing and manufacturing the space-craft, or the emissions of running the Blue Origin corporation. Furthermore, the fuel combination used by the latest generation of New Shepard craft now includes liquid hydrogen [8] – a higher carbon fuel than those used in Prof Berners-Lee’s calculations.

What about SpaceShipTwo? Although this craft emits markedly less direct carbon emissions per flight than New Shepard, as SGR discussed back in 2016, [9] it uses a fuel combination which emits significant levels of black carbon into the upper atmosphere. Research by the University of Colorado indicates that this can damage the stratospheric ozone layer – not only leading to higher levels of damaging ultra-violet radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, but also causing a global heating effect likely to be considerably greater than that from the carbon emissions alone.

And the aim of these journeys? A few minutes of ‘zero-gravity’ experience and a nice view. It is hard to see this as anything more than environmental vandalism for the super-rich.

Virgin Galactic claims to want to launch a “new age of clean and sustainable access to space” [10]– but they and the others in the space tourism industry clearly fail to understand the level of their own climate impacts, the rapidly increasing severity of the climate emergency, or the scale of action needed to cut carbon emissions to a sustainable level. If governments are serious about trying to prevent ‘dangerous’ climate change, then there is an important step to take immediately: ban space tourism.
 Dr Stuart Parkinson is Executive Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility. He has written on climate science and policy for 30 years, and holds a PhD in climate science.
 

References………

July 22, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, space travel | 1 Comment

Huge carbon emissions of space tourism

Space tourism: rockets emit 100 times more CO₂ per passenger than flights – imagine a whole industry   https://theconversation.com/space-tourism-rockets-emit-100-times-more-co-per-passenger-than-flights-imagine-a-whole-industry-164601
Eloise Marais Associate Professor in Physical Geography, UCLJuly 19, 2021  

The commercial race to get tourists to space is heating up between Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. On Sunday 11 July, Branson ascended 80 km to reach the edge of space in his piloted Virgin Galactic VSS Unity spaceplane. Bezos’ autonomous Blue Origin rocket is due to launch on July 20, coinciding with the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Though Bezos loses to Branson in time, he is set to reach higher altitudes (about 120 km). The launch will demonstrate his offering to very wealthy tourists: the opportunity to truly reach outer space. Both tour packages will provide passengers with a brief ten-minute frolic in zero gravity and glimpses of Earth from space. Not to be outdone, Elon Musk’s SpaceX will provide four to five days of orbital travel with its Crew Dragon capsule later in 2021.

What are the environmental consequences of a space tourism industry likely to be? Bezos boasts his Blue Origin rockets are greener than Branson’s VSS Unity. The Blue Engine 3 (BE-3) will launch Bezos, his brother and two guests into space using liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants. VSS Unity used a hybrid propellant comprised of a solid carbon-based fuel, hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB), and a liquid oxidant, nitrous oxide (laughing gas). The SpaceX Falcon series of reusable rockets will propel the Crew Dragon into orbit using liquid kerosene and liquid oxygen.

Burning these propellants provides the energy needed to launch rockets into space while also generating greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Large quantities of water vapour are produced by burning the BE-3 propellant, while combustion of both the VSS Unity and Falcon fuels produces CO₂, soot and some water vapour. The nitrogen-based oxidant used by VSS Unity also generates nitrogen oxides, compounds that contribute to air pollution closer to Earth.

Roughly two-thirds of the propellant exhaust is released into the stratosphere (12 km-50 km) and mesosphere (50 km-85 km), where it can persist for at least two to three years. The very high temperatures during launch and re-entry (when the protective heat shields of the returning crafts burn up) also convert stable nitrogen in the air into reactive nitrogen oxides.

These gases and particles have many negative effects on the atmosphere. In the stratosphere, nitrogen oxides and chemicals formed from the breakdown of water vapour convert ozone into oxygen, depleting the ozone layer which guards life on Earth against harmful UV radiation. Water vapour also produces stratospheric clouds that provide a surface for this reaction to occur at a faster pace than it otherwise would.

Space tourism and climate change

Exhaust emissions of CO₂ and soot trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Cooling of the atmosphere can also occur, as clouds formed from the emitted water vapour reflect incoming sunlight back to space. A depleted ozone layer would also absorb less incoming sunlight, and so heat the stratosphere less.

Figuring out the overall effect of rocket launches on the atmosphere will require detailed modelling, in order to account for these complex processes and the persistence of these pollutants in the upper atmosphere. Equally important is a clear understanding of how the space tourism industry will develop.

Virgin Galactic anticipates it will offer 400 spaceflights each year to the privileged few who can afford them. Blue Origin and SpaceX have yet to announce their plans. But globally, rocket launches wouldn’t need to increase by much from the current 100 or so performed each year to induce harmful effects that are competitive with other sources, like ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and CO₂ from aircraft.

During launch, rockets can emit between four and ten times more nitrogen oxides than Drax, the largest thermal power plant in the UK, over the same period. CO₂ emissions for the four or so tourists on a space flight will be between 50 and 100 times more than the one to three tonnes per passenger on a long-haul flight.

In order for international regulators to keep up with this nascent industry and control its pollution properly, scientists need a better understanding of the effect these billionaire astronauts will have on our planet’s atmosphere.

July 22, 2021 Posted by | climate change, space travel | Leave a comment

Problems of nuclear power in space

Houston, are we going to have a problem with space nuclear power? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Beau Rideout | July 19, 2021  ” ………….. space nuclear power isn’t just about propulsion. The dynamic commercial space and national security sectors can also benefit from nuclear capabilities and have an important role to play in developing dual-use technologies that have both military and civilian applications, though with some caveats to ensure human safety.

While the National Academies report published in February advocates for the use of nuclear power in propulsion, nuclear power for non-propulsion applications is becoming increasingly attractive as the commercial space sector seeks to expand its activities. It would be prudent to discuss and establish policy on the use of space nuclear power now, so that policy and safety concerns can be fully addressed during the development proposed by NASA and the National Academies. The United States, and the world, has important decisions to make about whether, when, and how to use nuclear power in space.

Nuclear propulsion in space. The fiscal year 2021 spending approved by Congress provides $110 million for space nuclear propulsion development. This reflects growing NASA interest in more ambitious deep-space missions and a burgeoning commercial interest in exploiting extraterrestrial resources on the Moon, Mars, and the asteroid belt, for which nuclear power would be a key enabling technology……………….

With both a high-power output and high mass efficiency, nuclear propulsion would strike a mighty blow against the tyranny of the rocket equation, which dictates that spacecraft need exponentially more fuel to travel farther. Space nuclear propulsion would enable entirely novel types of space missions, such as capturing small asteroids or, as NASA plans, sending humans to Mars.

Non-propulsion activities in space. In addition to providing advanced propulsion capabilities, nuclear power would enable other space activities and allow the commercial space industry to reduce its reliance on solar panels. For example, space-based radar systems can image the ground day or night, regardless of cloud cover, but require large amounts of electrical power. Communication systems relay data across the world but are constrained by the size of their solar panels. With nuclear power, they could send more data down to Earth, or serve more customers by operating from higher orbits.

The space industry is offering new in-space services and aiming for new destinations beyond geostationary orbit but within the moon’s orbit. Lockheed Martin has announced that future GPS satellites will be designed to receive hardware upgrades of processors and sensors while in orbit. A DARPA program is investigating future in-space manufacturing of large, lightweight structures using raw materials harvested from the Moon. And the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services program is scheduled to begin sending commercial lunar landers to the Moon in the fourth quarter of this year. This uptick of activity requiring frequent trips beyond low Earth orbit indicates that requirements for propulsion and power generation will continue to expand, making nuclear power an increasingly attractive solution. In anticipation of this demand, conversations about the proper, safe use of nuclear power in space must begin now.

…………  The United States should lead the way in identifying the types of applications that should be encouraged, those where caution may be indicated, and perhaps some applications that should be discouraged because the risks outweigh potential benefits.

…………. Interagency review should also identify measures to protect human safety. For example, the National Academies report has recommended that nuclear applications in space minimize the amount of radioactive material required, undergo sufficient testing to ensure reliable operations prior to any orbital flight, restrict reactor use until a spacecraft has achieved a safe orbit, and design all space-going reactors to automatically go into a “safe state,” in which the reactor is highly unlikely to achieve criticality and sustain a fission chain reaction, if a launch failure occurs. Nuclear power applications in low Earth orbits should be required to include back-up safety mechanisms such as redundant communications or a secondary propulsion system, as objects in these orbits are most at risk of uncontrolled reentry events like the Soviet Kosmos 954 reactor accident

In that 1978 accident, the Kosmos 954 satellite broke apart over Canada, spreading radioactive debris over the Northwest Territories and requiring a multimillion-dollar cleanup operation. Kosmos 954 was not the first fission reactor in space. The United States flew an experimental satellite called SNAPSHOT in 1965 to test a small nuclear reactor powering an early form of electric propulsion. SNAPSHOT failed 43 days after launch, but the reactor safely shut down and was left in a high orbit. The Soviet Union launched 33 RORSAT radar satellites powered by reactors between 1967 and 1988. Unlike SNAPSHOT, these RORSAT satellites orbited at low altitude and would fall back to Earth unless boosted up to a higher disposal orbit from which they would not return for several centuries. However, this boosting maneuver was not always successful and on two occasions resulted in the reactor cores crashing back to Earth. ………………. https://thebulletin.org/2021/07/houston-are-we-going-to-have-a-problem-with-space-nuclear-power/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=MondayNewsletter07192021&utm_content=NuclearRisk_NuclearPowerInSpace_07192021

July 20, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Astronauts to Mars – a game of cancer-russian-roulette, especially dangerous to women

women were more likely to develop lung cancer than men, suggesting a greater sex-based vulnerability to harmful radiation.

the risk to an astronaut exposed to space radiation is long-term rather than immediate. Without proper shielding (which tends to be rather heavy and thus prohibitively expensive to launch) their chances of developing cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, cataracts and central nervous system damage, slightly increase each day they are in space. In a person’s cells, space radiation can sever both strands of a DNA molecule’s double helix. And while a few such instances might come with very limited risks, each additional severance raises the odds of developing a harmful mutation that could cause cancer………

New Space Radiation Limits Needed for NASA Astronauts, Report Says, Scientific American, By Ramin Skibba on July 14, 2021 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-space-radiation-limits-needed-for-nasa-astronauts-report-says/   Although meant to minimize risks to human health, the proposed new limits would still be exceeded by any conceivable near-future crewed voyage to MarsAstronaut Scott Kelly famously spent an entire year residing onboard the International Space Station (ISS), about 400 kilometers above Earth, and his NASA colleague Christina Koch spent nearly that long “on station.” Each returned to Earth with slightly atrophied muscles and other deleterious physiological effects from their extended stay in near-zero gravity.

But another, more insidious danger lurks for spacefarers, especially those who venture beyond low-Earth orbit.

Space is filled with invisible yet harmful radiation, most of it sourced from energetic particles ejected by the sun or from cosmic rays created in extreme astrophysical events across the universe. Such radiation can damage an organism’s DNA and other delicate cellular machinery. And the damage increases in proportion to exposure, which is drastically higher beyond the protective cocoon of Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field (such as on notional voyages to the moon or Mars). Over time, the accrued cellular damage significantly raises the risk of developing cancer.

To address the situation, at NASA’s request, a team of top scientists organized by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report in June recommending that the space agency adopt a maximum career-long limit of 600 millisieverts for the space radiation astronauts can receive. The sievert is a unit that measures the amount of radiation absorbed by a person—while accounting for the type of radiation and its impact on particular organs and tissues in the body—and is equivalent to one joule of energy per kilogram of mass. Scientists typically use the smaller (but still quite significant) quantity of the millisievert, or 0.001 sievert. Bananas, for instance, host minute quantities of naturally occurring radioactive isotopes, but to ingest a millisievert’s worth, one would have to eat 10,000 bananas within a couple of hours.

Every current member of NASA’s astronaut corps has received less than 600 millisieverts during their orbital sojourns, and most, including Koch, have received much less and can thus safely return to space. But a year on the ISS still exposes them to more radiation than experienced by residents of Japan who lived near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accidents of 2011.

Everybody is planning trips to the moon and Mars,” and these missions could have high radiation exposures, says Hedvig Hricak, lead author of the report and a radiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Using current spaceflight-proved technologies, long-distance voyages—especially to the Red Planet—would exceed the proposed threshold, she says.

That could be a big problem for NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to send astronauts to the moon in preparation for future trips to Mars. Another problem for the space agency is that the epidemiological data it uses mostly come from a longevity study of Japanese survivors of atomic bomb blasts, as well as from the handful of astronauts and cosmonauts who have endured many months or even years in low-Earth orbit. NASA’s current space radiation limit, which was developed in 2014, involves a complicated risk assessment for cancer mortality that depends on age and sex, yet more relevant data are necessary, Hricak argues. In the atomic bomb survivor study, for instance, women were more likely to develop lung cancer than men, suggesting a greater sex-based vulnerability to harmful radiation. “But with the knowledge we presently have, we know we cannot make a comparison between high exposure versus chronic exposure,” Hricak says. “The environment is different. There are so many factors that are different.”

NASA wants to update its standards now because the agency is on the cusp of sending so many astronauts well beyond low-Earth orbit, where greater amounts of space radiation seem destined to exceed previously mandated exposure limits. Furthermore, Hricak says, having a single, universal radiation limit for all space travelers is operationally advantageous because of its simplicity. A universal limit could also be seen as a boon for female astronauts, [ Ed. a boon?when they still are more susceptible to cancer than men are?] who had a lower limit than men in the old system and therefore were barred from spending as many days in space as their male counterparts.

The new radiation limit proposed by Hricak and her team is linked to the risks to all organs of a 35-year-old woman—a demographic deemed most vulnerable in light of gender differences in the atomic bomb survivor data and the fact that younger people have higher radiation risks, partly because they have more time for cancers to develop. The goal of the radiation maximum is to keep an individual below a 3 percent risk of cancer mortality: in other words, with this radiation limit, at most three out of 100 astronauts would be expected to die of radiation-induced cancer in their lifetime.

“NASA uses standards to set spaceflight exposure limits to protect NASA astronauts’ health and performance, both in mission and after mission,” says Dave Francisco of NASA’s Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer. He acknowledges that, while astronauts on Mars missions would benefit from the thin Martian atmosphere that provides some limited protection, “transit in deep space has the highest exposure levels.”

That means long-haul space trips come with the biggest risks. A stay on the lunar surface for six months or more—presuming, of course, that astronauts eventually have a presence there and do not spend most of their time in subsurface habitats—would involve nearly 200 millisieverts of exposure, a higher amount than an extended visit to the ISS. And an astronaut traveling to Mars would be exposed to even more radiation. Whether they reached the Red Planet through a lunar stopover or on a direct spaceflight, they could have experienced significant radiation exposure en route. Even before they embarked on the trip back home, they could have already exceeded the 600 millisievert limit. The entire voyage, which would likely last a couple of years, could involve well more than 1,000 millisieverts. So if astronauts—and not just robots—will be sent to Mars, NASA likely will need to request waivers for them,

Hricak says, although the exact process for obtaining a waiver has not yet been laid out.

The report’s proposal for a new radiation maximum is not without its critics. “For a mission to Mars, a 35-year-old woman right at that limit could have an over 10 percent chance of dying in 15 to 20 years. To me, this is like playing Russian roulette with the crew,” says Francis Cucinotta, a physicist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and former radiation health officer at NASA. Despite the supposed benefits the new limits would have for female astronauts, he is concerned that the risks are particularly pronounced for younger women in space.

On the contrary, Hricak says, in its request for new limits, NASA has sought to be conservative. The European, Canadian, and Russian space agencies all currently have a higher maximum allowed dose of 1,000 millisieverts, while Japan’s limit is age- and sex-dependent like NASA’s current one, mainly because of a shared dependence on the atomic bomb survivor data.

But unlike someone in the vicinity of a nuclear explosion, the risk to an astronaut exposed to space radiation is long-term rather than immediate. Without proper shielding (which tends to be rather heavy and thus prohibitively expensive to launch) their chances of developing cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, cataracts and central nervous system damage, slightly increase each day they are in space. In a person’s cells, space radiation can sever both strands of a DNA molecule’s double helix. And while a few such instances might come with very limited risks, each additional severance raises the odds of developing a harmful mutation that could cause cancer………

considering how little is known about various health risks from different kinds of space radiation, compared with radiation we are familiar with on Earth, researchers will surely continue with more studies like these to protect astronauts as much as possible. “I can tell you exactly how much exposure you’re going to get from a CT scan,” Hricak says, “but there are many uncertainties with space radiation.”….. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-space-radiation-limits-needed-for-nasa-astronauts-report-says/  

July 15, 2021 Posted by | radiation, Reference, space travel, Women | Leave a comment

The space tourism plans of Bezos, Musk and Branson are morally reprehensible,

Ben Bramble sets out a problem that ought to be so obvious – that this space travel push is a wasteful, and even childish example of the rich boys club doing its thing –   Bezos, Musk, Gates, Branson  etc trying to outdo each other  

     
But there is a more sinister side to space travel and space research –   the national rivalries, started with Donald Trump’s plan for a Space Force –     nuclear reactors, nuclear-powered rockets, and nuclear weapons in space.   Those billionaires are all too well connected with NASA and this space military push. The thought of a nuclear war in space is horrendous.   But what else could possibly go wrong?

The space tourism plans of Bezos, Musk and Branson are morally reprehensible, The Age, Ben Bramble, 5 July 21.

With billionaires Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson soon to send paying customers into space, members of US Congress are askingwhether and how to regulate commercial spaceflight. But there is a more basic question: Should there be such an industry in the first place?

Supporters of such an industry, such as Republican Kevin McCarthy, cast these billionaires as modern-day Wright brothers, innovating commercialspaceflight in a way governments either can’t or won’t. While billionaires will be the first in space, they say, soon everyone will get their chance.

But this is clearly not feasible any time soon, given Earth’s environmental crises. It is unsustainable for humans to keep consuming resources at the rate we currently are, let alone if space tourism were to become commonplace. The fact that a product can be made cheap enough for many people to afford it does not show that it is environmentally sustainable for many people to actually consume it.

Still, you might say, what could be wrong with commercial spaceflight reserved for the ultra-wealthy? This wouldn’t significantly worsen our environmental crises.–

But there is something morally distasteful in the extreme about space tourism exclusively for the ultra-wealthy when so many people on Earth are in such great need. Going into space, in full view of the many billions of humans who are struggling on a daily basis, is a little like enjoying a pop-up Michelin star meal in front of a homeless shelter.

This is not to decry all luxury goods. But there is something particularly objectionable about spending so much money on a fleeting experience for oneself and others, who are already among the best off on the planet, when so many cannot even make ends meet (through no fault of their own).

At present, there seems a clear tendency to reserve moral criticism for people who cause bad things or who set out to harm others. Such behaviour is certainly bad and merits criticism. But we should feel grumpy also at people for failing to help others when they easily can. Those who display an indifference to the plight of others or who are too wrapped up in themselves and their own self-serving projects are morally criticisable even if they are not the cause of others’ suffering. While it is true that Bezos has recently become a major sponsor of the environment, much more is needed. Every dollar spent on sending billionaires into space is money that could have been used instead to help save the planet or bring others out of poverty.

It is worth adding that many billionaires have contributed to Earth’s problems. Our environmental crises are largely due to excessive consumption, something that companies such as Amazon have played a major role in making possible, affordable and accepted……….

Bezos has said that one of his reasons for founding his company Blue Origin is that “we’re now big compared to the size of the planet”. Like Musk, he thinks we need to look beyond Earth to survive our present crises. But this is far too premature. We can still save the Earth. But to save it, we’re going to have to re-engineer our consumer cultures and economies. This, and not space tourism, is the great engineering challenge of the 21st century. I’d like to see these billionaires use their brilliant minds to help save the Earth, rather than flee it. If this means smaller growth for their own companies, so be it. ….. https://www.theage.com.au/national/the-space-tourism-plans-of-bezos-musk-and-branson-are-morally-reprehensible-20210704-p586o1.html


July 5, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, space travel | 1 Comment

NASA pretending that space radiation is sort of OK for women, but it’s not

New NASA radiation standards for astronauts seen as leveling field for women, Science, By Anil OzaJun. 29, 2021 

A blue-ribbon panel has endorsed NASA’s plans to revise its standard for exposing astronauts to radiation in a way that would allow women to spend more time in space.


A report by
 the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released on 24 June encourages NASA to proceed with its plans to adopt a new standard that limits all astronauts to 600 millisieverts of radiation over their career. The current limit is the amount of radiation that correlates with a 3% increase in the risk of dying from a cancer caused by radiation exposure—a standard that favored men and older astronauts whose cancer risk from radiation was lower. The proposed standard would limit all astronauts to the allowable dosage for a 35-year-old woman.

The changes are in line with current data and puts women on an equal footing, says Hedvig Hricak, a radiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and chair of the committee that wrote the report. “There’s no evidence for significant gender difference in the radiation exposure, and associated risk of cancer,” she says.

The new standard comes as NASA gears up for renewed exploration of the Moon and, eventually, a mission to Mars. The change should remove gender from the list of factors used to decide who gets chosen for those missions, says Paul Locke, an environmental health expert at Johns Hopkins University who was not on the committee. “Women will not be penalized because they are, under the old model, at higher risk,” he says.

Whereas some experts lauded NASA’s intentions, others worry the proposal ignores the complexities and uncertainties of deep space travel. “I think they’ve pulled together the best data they have. But again, I think, more research is going to be needed,” says Albert Fornace, a radiobiologist at Georgetown University. With so few people having traveled beyond low-Earth orbit, most of the data for setting radiation exposure limits in space come from survivors of the atomic bombs in Japan and studies of people, like uranium miners, who work in conditions with high exposure to radiation. The long lead time for voyages to Mars also gives scientists time to develop ways to shield astronauts from higher levels of radiation, Fornace adds.

Francis Cucinotta, a biophysicist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, doesn’t agree with the report’s backing of a single dosage level. Instead, the former chief scientist for NASA’s radiation program thinks equity should come in the form of equal risk rather than equal dosages of radiation.

“[It] sounds like they’re just going to ignore the science and try to make it comfortable for everybody,” Cucinotta says, arguing that age, sex, and race affect an individual’s risk of developing cancer and should be factors when determining the amount of time astronauts can spend in space. “When they’re selected to be astronauts, there’s a lot of things where it’s not equal—it’s based on performance capability. But they’re not applying that model here.”

Cucinotta would stick with the 3% increase in the risk of dying of cancer. For a Mars mission, which is expected to expose astronauts to 1000 millisieverts, he proposes raising that maximum risk to 5% after conducting research on countermeasures and weighing genetic markers that lower an astronaut’s risk of developing cancer………..    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/06/new-nasa-radiation-standards-astronauts-seen-leveling-field-women

July 1, 2021 Posted by | space travel, women | Leave a comment

NASA wants to increase allowable radiation exposure for astronauts – women affected most.

“As missions go deeper into space, we need to communicate why astronauts are being asked to take on that risk and offer explicit ethical justifications. This report offers a framework for accomplishing that,”

Report backs NASA proposal to change astronaut radiation exposure limits, Space News, by Jeff Foust — June 25, 2021  WASHINGTON — A National Academies committee has endorsed a NASA proposal to change the radiation exposure limits the agency sets for its astronauts but cautioned that the revised limit is still insufficient for human Mars missions.

The June 24 report by a committee established by the National Academies and sponsored by NASA backs the agency’s proposal to set a single lifetime radiation exposure limit for astronauts, rather than different limits based on age and gender.

Currently, lifetime exposure limits range from 180 millisieverts for a 30-year-old woman to 700 millisieverts for a 60-year-old man. Those limits are based on models intended to set a limit of no more than a 3% risk of radiation exposure-induced death (REID) at the 95% confidence level.

NASA proposed changing that to a limit of about 600 millisieverts, regardless of age or gender. That limit is based on the mean 3% risk of REID for a 35-year-old woman, the most conservative case but measured to a different standard than the earlier calculation.

The change, the committee noted, will allow more opportunities for female astronauts given the higher radiation limits. “Taken together, the proposed standard creates equality of opportunity for spaceflight with the trade-offs of somewhat higher allowable exposure to radiation for a subset of astronauts (primarily women) and limiting exposures below otherwise acceptable doses for others (primarily older men),” the committee’s report stated………

While the revised levels will increase flight opportunities for many NASA astronauts, the levels are still more conservative than many other space agencies. Roscosmos, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency all set lifetime exposure limits of 1,000 millisieverts for their astronauts and cosmonauts, without any age or gender differences. The Japanese space agency JAXA does have age and gender differences, varying between 500 and 1,000 millisieverts.

Even those higher levels fall short of projected radiation exposures for round-trip Mars missions, which the report noted would exceed 1,000 millisieverts. Any astronauts who fly on a Mars mission would need a waiver to NASA’s radiation exposure limits, which raises ethical questions. “NASA should develop a protocol for waiver of the proposed space radiation standard that is judicious, transparent, and informed by ethics,” the committee recommended.

“As missions go deeper into space, we need to communicate why astronauts are being asked to take on that risk and offer explicit ethical justifications. This report offers a framework for accomplishing that,” said Julian Preston of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, vice-chair of the committee, in a statement.https://spacenews.com/report-backs-nasa-proposal-to-change-astronaut-radiation-exposure-limits/

June 26, 2021 Posted by | radiation, space travel, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Space Force wants to use directed-energy weapons for space superiority,

The Space Force wants to use directed-energy weapons for space superiority,

https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/space/2021/06/16/the-space-force-wants-to-use-directed-energy-weapons-for-space-superiority/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=C4ISRNET%206.17&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Daily%20Brief

Nathan Strout, 17 June 21, WASHINGTON — The head of the Space Force acknowledged that the U.S. is developing the “appropriate” directed-energy systems to maintain American space superiority, although he declined to provide details in the unclassified setting of a June 16 congressional hearing.

Noting that directed-energy systems could be a possible defensive tool for American satellites, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., asked Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond whether the United States was adequately developing a directed energy portfolio “to be an effective capability for space dominance.”

“Yes sir, we are,” Raymond responded, suggesting that they discuss the issue in more detail in a classified setting. “We have to be able to protect these capabilities that we rely so heavily on.”

n a statement to C4ISRNET, a Space Force spokesperson said, “General Raymond has stated many times that China and Russia have directed energy capabilities that are designed to damage or destroy our satellites. His response to Congressman James Langevin’s question was confirming that our architecture developments in the face of these threats are appropriate.”

The Missile Defense Agency has explored using space-based lasers to intercept ballistic missiles in the past, and other nations have fielded ground-based laser dazzling weapons that can blind on orbit sensors. However, the Space Force has been effectively mum on what weapon systems — conventional or directed energy — it is developing to protect its satellites or defeat enemy satellites. Raymond’s acknowledgement at the hearing might be the first time he’s publicly confirmed the directed energy systems are under development.

The government cited the development of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons by China and Russia as a justification for the creation of Space Command and the Space Force, and since their establishment military space leaders have been quick to criticize ASAT development and testing. U.S. Space Command’s Gen. James Dickinson has heavily criticized direct-ascent missile tests by Russia, which demonstrated the ability to take out satellites in low Earth orbit and the potential to cause dangerous space debris. Perhaps more concerning is a mysterious Russian satellite that has shown the ability to fire a projectile in space. Raymond refers to the spacecraft as an on-orbit weapon system.

Russia has made space a war-fighting domain by testing space-based and ground-based weapons intended to target and destroy satellites. This fact is inconsistent with Moscow’s public claims that Russia seeks to prevent conflict in space,” said Dickinson after a Russian ASAT test in December. “Space is critical to all nations. It is a shared interest to create the conditions for a safe, stable and operationally sustainable space environment.”

However, the Space Force — and the Air Force before it — have always been secretive about what ASAT weapons the U.S. military has or is developing. The one with the most public details is the Counter Communications System, a transportable system that can jam enemy satellites. And while the Air Force is developing laser weapons, it’s not clear what plans — if any — there are to attach them to space systems or direct them at enemy satellites. The U.S. also has missiles that can reach satellites in low Earth orbit.

Reports from the intelligence community and observers have highlighted the development of kinetic weapons — such as those mentioned above — as well as non-kinetic weapons — such as ground-based jammers or laser systems that can effectively blind satellite sensors — by nations deemed American adversaries.

In a report earlier this year, the Center for Strategic and International Studies suggested that the Space Force develop orbital laser weapons to defend American satellites. Titled “Defense Against the Dark Arts in Space,” the report lays out the various types of ASAT weapons and describes several ways the Space Force could defend against them. That includes passive defenses, like building a redundant space architecture that could survive the loss of one or even multiple satellites, and active defenses, such as satellite-mounted lasers that could blind incoming threats.

The U.S. has invested heavily in building passive defenses, such as a distributed architecture like the one described in the report, but it’s less forthcoming on its active defenses. Other nations are less secretive. Most notably, France has stated that it could equip its satellites with weapons — possibly lasers — to defend themselves from adversaries.

While Raymond’s brief comments didn’t give any insight into what the U.S. is developing in regards to directed energy systems for space, they didn’t rule out the types of weapons laid out in the CSIS report.

“It was a limited exchange, but the context of the statements and the statements themselves certainly leave the door open to nonkinetic defensive space capabilities of some kind,” said Todd Harrison, director of the CSIS Aerospace Security Project. “As we noted in our report, on-board electronic countermeasures, such as laser dazzlers and radar jammers, can be an effective way to defend satellites against certain types of kinetic attacks. And it has the advantage of protecting satellites without producing space debris, which is important to the long-term viability of the space domain for all users, not just the U.S. military.”

June 19, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia’s Approach to Nuclear Power in Outer Space

Russia’s Approach to Nuclear Power in Outer Space

Jamestown Foundation,  Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 18 Issue: 92 By: Pavel Luzinune 9, 2021

 Russia has been conducting research and development (R&D) on using nuclear power in outer space for years. On May 22, Alexander Bloshenko, executive director for advanced programs and science of Roscosmos, announced that the first mission of the nuclear-powered spacecraft, also known as the transport and energy module (TEM), is scheduled for 2030 (TASS, May 22). A week before this announcement, there was a deliberate leak from the Keldysh Center, a Roscosmos subsidiary entity, that this nuclear-powered spacecraft might be used for military purposes along with civil ones (RIA Novosti, May 13). These verbal interventions almost coincided with the hearings in the US Congress on the NASA budget request that proposes $585 million for nuclear thermal propulsion technology in FY2022 and ongoing American efforts in this field (SpaceNews, May 19; Physics Today, May 28). That means the Russian program on space nuclear power systems has not only technological but also geopolitical goals.

The current Russian program has a Soviet background. The USSR launched 33 military reconnaissance and targeting spacecraft with nuclear reactors into low-Earth orbit from 1969 to 1988. Most of them used thermoelectric nuclear power plants “Buk,” and the last two spacecraft used more advanced thermal electron emission NPPs “Topaz” with 4.5–5.5 kW of electric power. The Soviet Union also developed the prototypes of nuclear rocket engines, but the project was closed in 1986. In the early 1990s, a Russian-American project aimed to develop the “Topaz” reactors further, but was canceled by 1995. In 2000–2007, Russia tried to cooperate with China in this field (Kukharkin, 2012).

Despite long-term economic decline, Moscow has also tried to continue its independent efforts in space nuclear power systems since 1998, and during the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev, these efforts were proclaimed among the Kremlin’s key priorities (Pravo.gov.ru, February 2, 1998; RG.ru, November 13, 2009).

The program’s budget of 17 billion rubles for the period 2010–2018 was divided between Roscosmos (9.8 billion rubles) and Rosatom (7.2 billion rubles), totaling $560 million according to the exchange rates of 2010 (RG.ru, October 3, 2012). However, the actual spending was smaller. In 2010, only 500 million rubles ($16.5 million) were assigned for the purpose (Roscosmos, February 10, 2010). During the following decade, the total spending has reached almost 10 billion rubles or $213 million according to open data on federal budget funds and procurements released by Roscosmos and Rosatom (Vesti.ru, January 19, 2011; Interfax, October 12, 2020; Zakupki.gov.ru, 2013–2021). The current results of these efforts are less than initially planned………..

In comparison with NASA that tries to design a 10 kW space nuclear reactor with a Stirling engine intended to increase efficiency, the thermal electron emission remains the central paradigm of Russia’s R&Ds and the idea of using engines or turbines together with space nuclear reactors still remains theoretical (NASA, May 2, 2018; Issledovaniya Naukograda, July–September 2017). It is doubtful that Russia will develop the space nuclear power system with 1 MW of electric power and ion thrusters with more power in the foreseeable future. Still, Moscow definitely will try to convert existing results into some advance in outer space and foreign policy.


Along with a significant deficiency in other dimensions of Russia’s space activity and the country’s overall economic weakness, these problems prompt the Kremlin to look for an ace up its sleeve. While there is still a long way to go to develop nuclear reactors for space exploration missions, Russian industry and authorities are seeking to apply nuclear power for military satellites (KB Arsenal, September 1, 2020). Such spacecraft may be used for radar reconnaissance and electronic warfare (jamming) and be deployed to low, medium or geosynchronous orbits. However, there have not been any flight tests or technological demonstrations of such a satellite yet. This means Moscow will not be ready to deploy these satellites any time soon………   https://jamestown.org/program/russias-approach-to-nuclear-power-in-outer-space/

June 10, 2021 Posted by | Russia, space travel | Leave a comment

Ionising radiation the big danger to astronauts

NASA says that not only does space radiation potentially put astronauts at greater risk of radiation sickness, but an “increased lifetime risk for cancer, central nervous system effects, and degenerative diseases.”

Astronauts in space are exposed to the radiation equivalent of 150 to 6,000 chest x-rays  https://www.revelstokereview.com/news/morning-start-astronauts-in-space-are-exposed-to-the-radiation-equivalent-of-150-to-6000-chest-x-rays/ May 28, 2021 

As noted by NASA, radiation is a type of energy that is emitted in the form of rays, electromagnetic waves and/or particles. Radiation can be seen as visible light or felt as infrared radiation. However, some forms of radiation, like x-rays and gamma rays, are not visible.

Space radiation differs from the type of radiation experienced on Earth because intergalactic radiation “is comprised of atoms in which electrons have been stripped away as the atom accelerated in interstellar space to speeds approaching the speed of light – eventually, only the nucleus of the atom remains.”

So how much space radiation are astronauts exposed to? They’re exposed to “ionizing radiation with effective doses in the range from 50 to 2,000 mSv. 1 mSv of ionizing radiation is equivalent to about three chest x-rays. So that’s like if you were to have 150 to 6,000 chest x-rays.”

With that being said, NASA says that not only does space radiation potentially put astronauts at greater risk of radiation sickness, but an “increased lifetime risk for cancer, central nervous system effects, and degenerative diseases.”

May 29, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

Nuclear reactors in space, – enthusiasm by corporations and governments ignores the dangers.

You have to read through this article – about  ”a major advance” – very carefully –   to see that nothing much is really happening.   You have to get to the end of the article  =to learn how very dangerous is this plan.    Of course there;’s no mention that (A) the whole thing is totally connected with militarism, and (B) only the tax-payer would be willing and able to pay for these space toys 

Companies and government agencies propose nuclear reactors for space.  The technologies could help the US Space Force monitor the region between Earth and the Moon    Physics Today, Sarah Scoles 28 May 21,  ,,……….

Someday, such a system could power and propel spacecraft or keep the lights on in lunar or Martian habitats. That sort of nuclear electricity source would be a major advance…..

Eric Felt, space vehicles director at the Air Force Research Laboratory (which supports both the air and space forces), spoke to Physics Today on behalf of the space force’s interests. The branch, he says, is monitoring developments in space-based nuclear reactors but not yet funding them. The recently established branch has no immediate plans to use off-Earth nuclear reactors and hasn’t determined if or how space fission fits into its portfolio. Felt says both the technological and policy barriers have shrunk; the obstacle that remains is to find a goal that needs nuclear fission.

One place where nuclear technology could fit is cislunar space—the expanse between Earth and the Moon. 

………  McClure, Poston, and former Los Alamos associate director Andy Phelps have spun out their innovation into a company called Space Nuclear Power Corp, or SpaceNukes……..

SpaceNukes is not the only group working on nuclear reactors for cislunar “space domain awareness.” Among others, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is pursuing a related project, the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations, or DRACO. The craft would be propelled by a nuclear-thermal system and capable of surveilling a large area……….

Felt has met with the DRACO team and agreed to consider partnering with DARPA to transition the technology to the space force once it’s mature. The caveat—as with the Kilopower project—is that the space force must first find a “killer app” for it, says Felt. “Maybe ‘raison d’être’ would be more accurate,” he adds…….  https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.2.20210528a/full/

Sarah Scoles

……………..Nuclear reactors in space are not without hazards. Accidents involving nuclear reactors could put Earthlings at more risk than with conventional spacecraft. And any technology involving uranium could stir international objections, especially if it uses highly enriched uranium (HEU), as Kilopower does. “The problem with HEU is it’s weapons-grade material,” says McClure. “There’s always the concern that, if we lost it on launch, some bad person would recover it and do nefarious things.” Some policymakers and nonprofit groups worry that producing and using more HEU, which the US has worked to minimize for decades, poses proliferation risks.

The bomb-ready fuel isn’t banned completely, but its use would put the Kilopower design in the most stringent launch-approval category. The system can use a less-controversial fuel called high-assay low-enriched uranium, or HALEU, which does not carry the same proliferation risks, but it would add 700 kilograms to the reactor’s mass. “We prefer to use HEU because the system is lighter,” says Poston. But by using HALEU, DRACO’s launch approval would be greatly simplified.  https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.2.20210528a/full/

May 29, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, space travel | 1 Comment

Russia’s plans for nuclear-powered spacecraft to Jupiter

Russia Wants To Send A Nuclear-Powered Spacecraft To Jupiter This Decade, IFL Science  26 May 21,Russia is planning to send a nuclear-powered spacecraft to the grand gas giant of the Solar System, Jupiter, in 2030. 

Roscosmos, Russia’s federal space agency, announced the plan for the mammoth 50-month journey last week. The journey will take it on a mini tour of the Solar System, taking pit stops around the Moon and Venus, dropping off spacecraft along its way, before heading on to Jupiter. 

More specifically, a “space tug” with a nuclear-based transport and energy module dubbed Zeus will head towards the Moon where a spacecraft will separate from it. It will then pass by Venus to perform a gravity assist maneuver and drop off another spacecraft, before venturing towards Jupiter and one of its satellites.

“Together with the Russian Academy of Sciences, we’re are now making calculations about this flight’s ballistics and payload,” Roscosmos Executive Director for Long-Term Programs and Science Alexander Bloshenko told reporters, according to TASS news agency.

Most spacecraft use solar panels that convert the Sun’s energy into electricity. However, the deeper a spacecraft goes into the Solar System, the further it strays from the Sun and less solar energy is available. While batteries can be used for backup, some missions – such as Cassini and Voyager – have been powered from a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), which is a bit like a nuclear battery that uses heat from the radioactive decay of isotopes. RTGs are not nuclear reactors, however, as a chain reaction does not take place.

The new Zeus project, by comparison, is a whole nuclear reactor that will use fission reactions to drive the propulsion. In the words of Russian state media, it’s a “secrecy-laden project in development since 2010” that involves a 500-kilowatt nuclear reactor, weighing around 22 tons….

The Soviet Union launched a bunch of nuclear reactors into space during the Cold War as part of the RORSAT missions, a set of Soviet nuclear spy satellites launched between 1967 and 1988. On the other hand, the US has launched just one: SNAP-10A or SNAPSHOT, a nuclear-reactor power system launched in 1965. 

The US has regained interest in nuclear-powered space travel over the past few decades. Just recently, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has commissioned three private companies – Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, and General Atomics – to develop nuclear fission thermal rockets for use in lunar orbit, with the goal of demonstrating the technology above low Earth orbit in 2025. https://www.iflscience.com/space/russia-wants-to-send-a-nuclearpower-spacecraft-to-jupiter-this-decade/

May 27, 2021 Posted by | Russia, space travel | Leave a comment

Master of Space: Corporate plans for the militarization & privatization of space

Feb 2, 2021 Sun, Jan 31, 2021: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm Master of Space: Corporate plans for the militarization & privatization of space DESCRIPTION: Bruce Gagnon will reveal the deadly connections between the corporate drive to ‘control and dominate’ space as spelled out in the US Space Command’s 1997 planning document called Vision for 2020. https://thecommunity.com/wp-content/u…

The gold rush is now underway as space technologies have matured to the point where mining the sky for precious resources becomes possible. Corporate forces intend to use the newly formed ‘Space force’ to guard the front gate on and off Earth to ensure that only ‘authorized’ companies and nations would be allowed to access space.

This vision was first spelled out before Congress in the early 1950’s when former Nazi Maj. Gen. Walter Dornberger shared his vision of orbiting battle stations in space to control the pathway on and off our planet. Dornberger had been Hitler’s liaison to V-1 & V-2 rocket scientist Wernher von Braun during WW II. After the war Dornberger, Von Braun and more than 1,000 Nazi leaders were secretly brought to the US to serve in the military industrial complex. Van Braun built the US space program and Dornberger became a V-P of Bell Aerospace in New York. http://www.space4peace.org

BIO: Bruce Gagnon is the Coordinator (and Co-Founder) of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He is a Vietnam war-era veteran and began his organizing work with the United Farm Workers Union. He lives in Bath, Maine.

May 16, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, secrets,lies and civil liberties, space travel, weapons and war | Leave a comment