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America’s original moon plan was to explode a nuclear bomb on the moon

Inside Project A119, the secret US plan to detonate a nuclear bomb on the Moon, ABC News, By Antony Funnell for Future Tense   18 July 19, Long before JFK spoke inspiringly of sending humans to the Moon, the American intelligence community was concocting a very different plan.

Landing on the Moon was option B.

Option A was to detonate a nuke on it.

In the late 1950s, Washington set in place a secret operation to examine the feasibility of detonating a thermonuclear device on the surface of our closest celestial neighbour.

It was codenamed Project A119.

Had it gone ahead, the expression “shooting for the Moon” would have gained a whole new meaning.

A spectacular scheme born of desperationWhat might now seem unimaginable only makes sense in the context of the Cold War, historian Vince Houghton says……..

The West was given a shock with the launch of Sputnik and very quickly the US Government flew into action and said we need to do something very spectacular,” Dr Houghton says.

“We need to do something so big that the whole world will know that this was just an anomaly, that Sputnik was just a blip, that the United States was still the big kid on the block.”

And with that, Project A119 was born.

One hell of a mushroom

The idea behind the project was ambitious, but simple — to create an explosion and lunar mushroom cloud so awe-inspiring and unavoidable that no matter where you lived on planet Earth, it would be impossible to ignore the extent of America’s military and technological might.

Appointed to lead the project was a physicist named Leonard Reiffel, who later went on to become the deputy director of the Apollo Program at NASA.

Dr Houghton says when delivering the initial findings in June 1959, cost was among the major reasons why the project was scuttled.

But he says there were also concerns about damaging the lunar landscape.

“There were some scientists who said: ‘You know, we might want to walk up there some day. Maybe we don’t want to blow the hell out of it before we do,'” he says.

“But, again, Sputnik was so terrifying that a lot of people were willing to take that chance.

“A lot of people were willing to say: ‘You know what? The Moon’s big enough that we can nuke it and land on it at the same time, so let’s give this a shot.'”

The big bang that fizzed

Dr Reiffel’s secret report into the feasibility of a lunar detonation was eventually declassified in 2000.

It carried a rather innocuous title: A Study of Lunar Research Flights.

It suggested that detonating a nuclear device on the Moon was technically feasible, but it gave no substantive detail as to how it might be done.

The project never proceeded to operational phase.

Interviewed by The Guardian shortly after the report’s declassification, Dr Reiffel expressed his personal relief.

“I am horrified that such a gesture to sway public opinion was ever considered,” he said.

“Had the project been made public there would have been an outcry.

“I made it clear at the time there would be a huge cost to science of destroying a pristine lunar environment, but the US Air Force were mainly concerned about how the nuclear explosion would play on Earth.”

Dr Houghton says it’s important to view Project A119 in its historical context.

He details the operation in a new book called Nuking the Moon, which examines a whole slate of radical intelligence projects that were set in motion during WWII and the Cold War, but which were never carried out………   https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-17/moon-us-plans-cold-war-russia-sputnik/11220340

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July 18, 2019 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Future space travellers will be, in reality, radiation guinea pigs

Space radiation hasn’t contributed to astronaut mortality — yet, study shows

An analysis of all living and dead astronauts and cosmonauts shows that radiation hasn’t contributed meaningfully to their mortality rates. Astronomy, By Korey Haynes , July 5, 2019 “ …………   they found no trend in the deaths suggesting any common cause, meaning radiation didn’t play a major role in the health outcomes of the astronauts and cosmonauts they studied.

Of course, this doesn’t mean humans are in the clear.

“We would expect that at some level of dose there should be adverse health effects,” Reynolds says. “We keep getting the answer ‘no.’ This doesn’t mean radiation isn’t harmful or greater doses wouldn’t be. But so far the doses have been low enough that we don’t see anything.”

That’s probably because the vast majority of space farers so far have spent most or all of their time in Earth orbit, where Earth’s magnetic fields still protect them from the majority of harmful space radiation. Only those 24 astronauts who ventured to the Moon went beyond Earth’s radiation protection, and they stayed for just a few days.

Reynolds says that it’s difficult to draw meaningful results from that tiny sub-sample of people.

By contrast, a Mars mission might last multiple years, and would take place almost entirely beyond Earth’s shielding.

Other researchers are looking at alternative ways of testing the dangers of radiation exposure. But it’s possible that the next round of human space explorers will be guinea pigs, much like the first generation, and only time will tell how radiation has affected them.http://www.astronomy.com/news/2019/07/space-radiation-hasnt-contributed-to-astronaut-mortality–yet-study-shows

July 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

A heightened solar cycle, by chance, reduced the exposure of Apollo astronauts to space radiation

Space radiation: the Apollo crews were extremely lucky  The Conversation, Jim Wild
Professor of Space Physics, Lancaster UniversityJuly 17, 2019   “………..  There is potentially harmful radiation in space. So how did the astronauts survive it?

The term “radiation” is used to describe energy that is emitted in the form of electromagnetic waves and/or particles. Humans can perceive some forms of electromagnetic radiation: visible light can be seen and infrared radiation (heat) can be felt.

Meanwhile, other varieties of radiation such as radio waves, X-rays and gamma rays are not visible and require special equipment to be observed. Worryingly, when high energy (ionising) radiation encounters matter, it can cause changes at the atomic level, including in our bodies.

There are a several sources of ionising radiation in space. The sun continuously pours out electromagnetic radiation across all wavelengths – especially as visible, infrared and ultraviolet radiation. Occasionally, enormous explosions on the solar surface known as solar flares release massive amounts of X-rays and gamma rays into space, as well as energetic electrons and protons (which make up the atomic nucleus along with neutrons). These events can pose a hazard to astronauts and their equipment even at distances as far from the sun as Earth, the moon and Mars.

Potentially dangerous radiation in space also originates from outside our solar system. Galactic cosmic rays are high energy, electrically charged atomic fragments that travel at nearly the speed of light and arrive from all directions in space.

On Earth, we are protected from most of this ionising radiation. The Earth’s strong magnetic field forms the magnetosphere, a protective bubble that diverts most dangerous radiation away, while the Earth’s thick atmosphere absorbs the rest.

But above the atmosphere, the magnetosphere traps energetic subatomic particles in two radiation regions. These “Van Allen belts” comprise an inner and outer torus of electrically charged particles.

Lucky escape

So how did NASA solve the problem of crossing the Van Allen belts? The short answer is they didn’t. To get to the moon, a spacecraft needs to be travelling quickly to climb far enough away from the Earth such that it can be captured by the moon’s gravity. The trans-lunar orbit that the Apollo spacecraft followed from the Earth to the moon took them through the inner and outer belts in just a few hours.

Although the aluminium skin of the Apollo spacecraft needed to be thin to be lightweight, it would have offered some protection. Models of the radiation belts developed in the run-up to the Apollo flights indicated that the passage through the radiation belts would not pose a significant threat to astronaut health. And, sure enough, documents from the period show that monitoring badges worn by the crews and analysed after the missions indicated that the astronauts typically received doses roughly less than that received during a standard CT scan of your chest.

But that is not the end of the story. To get to the moon and safely back home, the Apollo astronauts not only had to cross the Van Allen belts, but also the quarter of a million miles between the Earth and the moon – a flight that typically took around three days each way.

They also needed to operate safely while in orbit around the moon and on the lunar surface. During the Apollo missions, the spacecraft were outside the Earth’s protective magnetosphere for most of their flight. As such, they and their crews were vulnerable to unpredictable solar flares and events and the steady flux of galactic cosmic rays.

The crewed Apollo flights actually coincided with the height of a solar cycle, the periodic waxing and waning of activity that occurs every 11 years. Given that solar flares and solar energetic particle events are more common during times of heightened solar activity, this might seem like a cavalier approach to astronaut safety.

There is no doubt that the political imperative in the 1960s to put US astronauts on the moon “in this decade” was the primary driving factor in the mission timing, but there are counterintuitive benefits to spaceflight during solar activity maxima. The increased strength of the sun’s magnetic field that permeates the solar system acts like an umbrella – shielding the Earth, moon and planets from galactic cosmic rays and therefore lessening the impact on astronaut radiation doses.  https://theconversation.com/space-radiation-the-apollo-crews-were-extremely-lucky-120339

July 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Mars and travel to Mars – will kill astronauts with ionising radiation

EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY: RADIATION WILL MAKE MARS MISSION DEADLY,   https://futurism.com/the-byte/space-radiation-mars-mission-deadly   JUNE 5TH 19__DAN ROBITZSKI__

Slow Down

Elon Musk once said he’d likely move to Mars in his lifetime. But before we settle the Red Planet, the European Space Agency (ESA) urges extreme caution.

That’s because it lacks the natural barriers that protect us Earthlings from cosmic radiation, which would put astronauts at risk of deadly health conditions. But they’re working on it — the ESA says it has partneredwith particle accelerators to recreate cosmic radiation in a controlled setting and build shields that can protect future explorers.

Harsh Conditions

Astronauts on the International Space Station are subjected to 200 times the cosmic radiation as people are on Earth, according to ExtremeTech. On Mars, that number jumps up to 700 — scientists have even suggested that Martian settlers may rapidly mutateto adapt.

“The real problem is the large uncertainty surrounding the risks,” said ESA physicist Marco Durante in the press release. “We don’t understand space radiation very well and the long-lasting effects are unknown.”

Shields Up

The ESA found that a six-month stay on Mars would expose astronauts to “60% of the total radiation dose limit recommended for their entire career.”

Ongoing experiments suggest that lithium is a promising material for future spacecraft and radiation shields, according to the press release, but they haven’t reached the point at which space travel becomes safe.

As it stands today, we can’t go to Mars due to radiation,” said Durante. “It would be impossible to meet acceptable dose limits.”

READ MORE: Radiation Makes Human Missions to Mars Too Dangerous: ESA [ExtremeTech]

More on space: Four Legal Challenges to Resolve Before Settling on Mars

June 8, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, space travel | 3 Comments

Ionising radiation in space will kill astronauts headed for Mars


The radiation showstopper for Mars exploration 
 https://phys.org/news/2019-06-showstopper-mars-exploration.html, by   3 June 19, An astronaut on a mission to Mars could receive radiation doses up to 700 times higher than on our planet—a major showstopper for the safe exploration of our solar system. A team of European experts is working with ESA to protect the health of future crews on their way to the Moon and beyond.

Earth’s magnetic fieldand atmosphere protect us from the constant bombardment of galactic cosmic rays—energetic particles that travel at close to the speed of light and penetrate the human body.

Cosmic radiation could increase cancer risks during long duration missions. Damage to the human body extends to the brain, heart and the central nervous system and sets the stage for degenerative diseases. A higher percentage of early-onset cataracts have been reported in astronauts.

“One day in space is equivalent to the radiation received on Earth for a whole year,” explains physicist Marco Durante, who studies cosmic radiation on Earth.

Marco points out that most of the changes in the astronauts’ gene expression are believed to be a result of radiation exposure, according to the recent NASA’s Twins study. This research showed DNA damage in astronaut Scott Kelly compared to his identical twin and fellow astronaut Mark Kelly, who remained on Earth.

A second source of space radiation comes from unpredictable solar particle events that deliver high doses of radiation in a short period of time, leading to “radiation sickness” unless protective measures are taken.

Europe’s radiation fight club

“The real problem is the large uncertainty surrounding the risks. We don’t understand space radiation very well and the long-lasting effects are unknown,” explains Marco who is also part of an ESA team formed to investigate radiation.

Since 2015, this forum of experts provides advice from areas such as space science, biology, epidemiology, medicine and physics to improve protection from space radiation.

“Space radiation research is an area that crosses the entire life and physical sciences area with important applications on Earth. Research in this area will remain of high priority for ESA,” says Jennifer Ngo-Anh, ESA’s team leader human research, biology and physical sciences.

While astronauts are not considered radiation workers in all countries, they are exposed to 200 times more radiation on the International Space Station than an airline pilot or a radiology nurse.

Radiation is in the Space Station’s spotlight every day. A console at NASA’s mission control in Houston, Texas, is constantly showing space weather information.

f a burst of space radiation is detected, teams on Earth can abort a spacewalk, instruct astronauts to move to more shielded areas and even change the altitude of the station to minimize impact.

One of the main recommendations of the topical team is to develop a risk model with the radiation dose limits for crews traveling beyond the International Space Station.

ESA’s flight surgeon and radiologist Ulrich Straube believes that the model should “provide information on the risks that could cause cancer and non-cancer health issues for astronauts going to the Moon and Mars in agreement with all space agencies.”

Recent data from ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter showed that on a six-month journey to the Red Planet an astronaut could be exposed to at least 60% of the total radiation dose limit recommended for their entire career.

“As it stands today, we can’t go to Mars due to radiation. It would be impossible to meet acceptable dose limits,” reminds Marco.

Measure to protect

ESA has teamed up with five particle accelerators in Europe that can recreate cosmic radiation by “shooting” atomic particles to speeds approaching the speed of light. Researchers have been bombarding biological cells and materials with radiation to understand how to best protect astronauts.

“The research is paying off. Lithium is standing out as a promising material for shielding in planetary missions,” says Marco.

ESA has been measuring the radiation dose on the International Space Station for seven years with passive radiation detectors in the DOSIS 3-D experiment. ESA astronauts Andreas Mogensen and Thomas Pesquet wore a new mobile dosimeter during their missions that gave them a real-time snapshot of their exposure.

The same European team behind this research will provide radiation detectors to monitor the skin and organ doses of the two phantoms traveling to the Moon onboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

June 4, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, space travel | 2 Comments

$125 million to NASA to develop nuclear rockets

NASA JUST GOT $125 MILLION TO DEVELOP NUCLEAR ROCKETS,  https://futurism.com/the-byte/nasa-develop-nuclear-rockets    DAN ROBITZSKI_ 29 May 19, For the first time since the 1970s, NASA is developing nuclear propulsion systems for its spacecraft.NASA didn’t request any money for a nuclear propulsion program, but it will get $125 million for the research as part of the space agency’s $22.3 billion budget that Congress approved last week, Space.comreports. If the program succeeds, nuclear propulsion could significantly cut down on travel time during missions to Mars and beyond.

Test Launch

Republican leadership sees nuclear propulsion as an important step along the way to deep space missions and the 2024 Moon landing with which Congress has tasked NASA, per Space.com. Alabama Representative Robert Aderholt described nuclear propulsion as “critical” for the 2024 launch in a budget meeting last week.

“As we continue to push farther into our solar system, we’ll need innovative new propulsion systems to get us there, including nuclear power,” Vice President Mike Pence told the National Space Council in March.

Sorting It Out

But before NASA can embrace nuclear-powered technology, there’s the matter of navigating regulations that govern the use of nuclear energy.

For the time being, the space agency hasn’t announced any plans to use nuclear propulsion for any of its planned missions, according to Space.com, but that may change as the technology develops.

May 30, 2019 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Funds being cut from US Air Force nuclear, space programs

US Air Force nuclear, space programs take hit in border wall reprogramming, Defense News, Joe Gould , Aaron Mehta , and Valerie Insinna 13 May 19,  WASHINGTON — In the wake of the Pentagon reprogramming $1.5 billion in fiscal 2019 funds to support President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico, only the U.S. Air Force appears to be losing money appropriated for equipment updates.

May 14, 2019 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Russia considering making spaceplane powered by a nuclear reactor

‘Reshaping space market’: Russia mulls building rocket plane with nuclear engine   Rt.com : 6 Mar, 2019 Russian space agency Roscosmos is considering building a spaceplane powered by a nuclear reactor, according to a memo obtained by a Russian news agency. The move could “reshape” the market for space launches, the document says.

A rocket plane is an aircraft powered by rocket engines. Conventional jets proved better for atmosphere-only flight, but this type of vehicle found its niche application as a reusable spacecraft – most notably as the Space Shuttle program.

Several rocket planes are still operational today, like the SpaceShipTwo, which is meant for suborbital tourist flights. Roscosmos believes such an aircraft may be viable for space missions if equipped with a nuclear power plant, says a memo reviewed by RIA Novosti.

The memo says Russia’s experience with creating the Buran spaceplane and similar space systems would come in handy for designing such a craft in the future.

Nuclear power is tricky to use in space, let alone harnessing it to provide propulsion. The USSR experimented with placing small nuclear reactors on its satellites for endurance, but the incident with the Kosmos 954 sat, which malfunctioned and fell in Canada in 1977, showed that potential problems probably outweigh the benefits. Improvements in solar panels made them the to-go power source in space applications while chemical and compressed gas thrusters are used for propulsion.

The picture may be different for long-range space missions, in which a reliable power source, capable of providing propulsion for months rather than minutes would be a huge advantage. Russia is currently working on a project dubbed TEM, a nuclear-powered rocket powered by a megawatt-class nuclear reactor…….. https://www.rt.com/russia/453132-rocket-plane-nuclear-power/

March 7, 2019 Posted by | Russia, space travel | Leave a comment

Space travel? The human body is not compatible with ionising radiation

From Radiation to Isolation: 5 Big Risks for Mars Astronauts (Videos)

Even astronauts who live on the International Space Station, which sits inside Earth’s protective magnetic field, are exposed to 10 times the radiation they would if they were back on Earth, NASA officials said in a statement and series of videos from the agency’s Human Research Program.

Anyone who traveled through deep space would be at much greater risk from radiation exposure. Outside of Earth’s protective shield, radiation can increase cancer risk and damage a person’s central nervous system (which would cause altered cognitive function, reduced motor function and behavioral changes), NASA’s Human Research Program said. Other dangers of being exposed to such high radiation include nausea, vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, cataracts, cardiac disease and circulatory disease. …….https://www.space.com/42918-big-space-risks-mars-astronauts-videos.html

January 10, 2019 Posted by | space travel | Leave a comment

Space travel enthusiasts show their ignorance of ecology and the dangers of Plutonium 238

I do not have time at the moment to really think about this one, –  But –  a couple of  lovely sentences just leaped out at me:

Plutonium-238 is very special for the fact that it’s a material that poses virtually no danger to anyone unless you do something insane 

we have to put our illogical fears aside 

That’s from this absolute hymn to Plutonium 238  – Forbes 13 Dec 18 – NASA Doesn’t Have Enough Nuclear Fuel For Its Deep Space Missions

 

December 15, 2018 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment