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Nukes in space

New Los Alamos spin-off aims to put nuclear reactors in space,   LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Nov. 2, 2020—A new agreement hopes to speed along a nuclear reactor technology that could be used to fuel deep-space exploration and possibly power human habitats on the Moon or Mars. Los Alamos National Laboratory has signed an agreement to license the “Kilopower” space reactor technology to Space Nuclear Power Corporation (SpaceNukes), also based in Los Alamos, NM…… https://www.miragenews.com/new-los-alamos-spin-off-aims-to-put-nuclear-reactors-in-space/

November 3, 2020 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Space exploration – to lead to dangerous nuclear-armed totalitarian societies

Professor warns space exploration will give rise to totalitarian societies equipped with nuclear weapons – but some say his forecast is too pessimistic   

  • Daniel Deudney is a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University
  • He recently published a book titled ‘Dark Skies’ that talks about space expansion
  • The text warns that space settlements could become totalitarian societies
  • Populations and resources will need to be controlled for survival
  •  Deudney notes that nuclear weapons will become the gold standard in space
  • He fears that the cosmic battles will eventually make their way to Earth 

By STACY LIBERATORE FOR DAILYMAIL.COM, 28 October 2020    Space agencies across the world are working tirelessly to design the best ships and technologies for the chance to claim a stake of the final frontier for their country.

Although it may seem like an act of national pride, a professor from Johns Hopkins University warns that space expansion may lead to the extinction of humanity, suggesting it should not be attempted at all.

Daniel Deudney recently published a book titled ‘Dark Skies’ that examines space expansionism through geopolitics revealing cosmic habitats could spark totalitarian empires.

The political science professor also notes that if these settlements stretch across the solar system, nuclear weapons will become the gold standard in war, along with using asteroids to destroy enemy planets – but other experts feel these arguments are ‘too pessimistic.’

‘I argue that the consequences of what has actually happened in space are much less positive than space enthusiasts and many others believe,’ reads ‘Dark Skies.’

‘My case for this darker net assessment of actual space activities centers on the role of space activities in making nuclear war more likely.’

‘In sum, this book argues that the large-scale expansion of human activities into space, past and future, should join the lengthening list of catastrophic and existential threats to humanity, and that the ambitious core of space expansionism should be explicitly relinquished.’

The book’s release comes at a time when many countries are muscling up to head into space.

The US announced a new branch of its armed forces called the US Space Force in 2019, which ‘is designed to protect the interests of the United States in space, deter aggression in the final frontier and conduct prompt and sustained space operations.’

Many other countries including France, Canada and Japan have since followed in suit for their chance to take a piece of space.

However, Deudney’s concludes that these countries’ efforts will come with serious consequences.

The professor used geopolitics for this work, which studies ‘the practice of states controlling and competing for territory’ – and in this case, space.

Deudeny also explains that he is not opposed to using space in ways that will benefit Earth and is not on a mission to ‘defund space’ by eliminating the many robots and satellites that currently patrol the area.

He is looked at ‘the political and military potential of a system-spanning human civilization only increases the chances of totalitarianism and the deliberate or accidental extinction of human society,’……..

Along with using objects in space, governments have revealed details over the past years for launching nuclear weapons into the final frontier.

NASA is working on a method that would send a nuclear bomb into space aboard a rocket to destroy an asteroid heading towards Earth.

Earlier this year, the US raised concerns that China or Russia may soon detonate a nuclear weapon in space ‘to fry the electronics’ of spacecraft and ‘indiscriminately’ take out satellite.

Although neither of these are a reality, the technology may be in the works and could be used to wage space war…… https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8885599/Professor-warns-space-exploration-spark-totalitarian-societies-equipped-nuclear-weapons.html

October 29, 2020 Posted by | politics international, space travel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The very real risks of radiation accidents on Earth, from nuclear reactors in space

October 29, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety, space travel | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors on the moon- desperate hope for the failing nuclear industry

Fly me to the moon, but don’t put reactors there https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2020/10/18/goodbye-moon/, By Linda Pentz GunterNot content to desecrate our terrestrial landscape with hundreds of thousands of tons of nuclear waste — much piled up with nowhere to go, the rest released to contaminate our air, water and soil — humankind, in all its folly, now plans to do the same to the Moon. And, eventually to Mars.

While our species’ insatiable scientific curiosity has undoubtedly led to some beneficial inventions, it has also drawn us inexorably towards our own downfall. Our zeal to create the atomic bomb ignored logic, ethics, consequences and the fundamentals of human rights.

The bomb brought us so-called civil nuclear power reactors, the ugly and irresponsible spawn of a weapon that leaves us perched perpetually on the precipice of extinction. But there is nothing “civil” about nuclear power.

At the dawn of the nuclear energy age, not a thought was given to the legacy of deadly radioactive waste it would produce. That can was kicked summarily down the road. Now we are far down that road and no solution has been arrived at, while we ignore the one obvious one: stop making more of it!

So now comes the news that the US wants to put nuclear power reactors on the Moon.

In the news stories that followed the announcement, replete with the usual excitement about space exploration (never mind the cost and bellicose implications) there was not one single mention of the radioactive waste these reactors would produce.

The problem, like the waste itself, will simply be kicked into some invisible crater on the dark side of the Moon.

NASA, the US Department of Energy and assorted nuclear labs are pushing the small modular reactor for nuclear projects on the Moon and Mars. Desperate to stay relevant and to continue gobbling up taxpayer dollars, this is music to the failing nuclear industry’s ears. Financially disastrous and technically unresolved on Earth, the SMR, say these “experts”, is ideally suited to the needs of humans living for extensive periods in space. 

Since each of these mini-reactors will likely have an uninterrupted output of only 10 kilowatts, it will take multiple reactors on the Moon or Mars to fulfill the necessary functions for their human inhabitants.

Needless to say, so far there is no certified design, no test reactor, no actual reactor, and no fool-proof way to send such a reactor to the Moon. (Rockets have an unfortunate habit of sometimes blowing up on — or shortly after — launch.) Nevertheless, the year 2026 is the ambitious target date for all systems go. In keeping with the theme, “pie in the sky” springs to mind.

While no reactor design has been identified, it will most likely need to use highly enriched uranium (HEU) which puts the reactor firmly in violation of non-proliferation standards. As Dr. Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists told PBS Newshour, “This may drive or start an international space race to build and deploy new types of reactors requiring highly enriched uranium.”

Given the utility of HEU for nuclear weapons use, and the probes currently being sent to the Moon and Mars by “unfriendly” countries such as China and the United Arab Emirates, it does not take much of an imagination to envisage the temptation for theft by force. Will the US deploy guards around its lunar reactors.? Will we see terrorism on the Moon, even war?

What is this really all about? Profit? Prestige? Proliferation? The Idaho National Laboratory, which is eager to develop the lunar SMR prototype, sees this as an opportunity to emphasize “the United States’ global leadership in nuclear innovation,” the lab’s John Wagner told Newshour.

This echoes the mantra parroted by almost every federal institution and corporation seeking to justify some new and exorbitant nuclear expense: we cannot let China and Russia take over; the US must retain — or regain — pre-eminence in the nuclear sector and in space. And so on.

It’s not being cute to call this lunacy. With the ever-expanding crises on Earth, caused by the ravaging effects of climate change as well as the current pandemic, spending exorbitant sums to stick reactors on the Moon or Mars is more than madness; it is morally irresponsible. It abandons most of us on Earth to our fate, while, just maybe, possibly, someday, a handful of people will head off to the Red Planet. Never to return.

Yet undeterred by immorality and expense, and apparently without the slightest concern for the radioactive dirt pile these reactors will produce, NASA and the Department of Energy are eagerly soliciting proposals.

And what will these lunar reactors do? They will enable “capability for a sustained lunar presence, particularly for surviving a lunar night,” NASA’s Anthony Calomino told Space News.  “The surface of the moon provides us an opportunity to fabricate, test and flight qualify a space fission system,” he said.

The Moon is seen as our launchpad to Mars. Now, it seems, it will also become our latest nuclear dustbin. If there is a meltdown, or a cascade of accidents among the cluster of small identical reactors there, all of which could suffer the same failure at the same time, it will become our next nuclear wasteland.

I am happy to say “goodnight moon.” But I don’t wan’t to say “goodbye.”

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, space travel, USA | Leave a comment

On the moon ”normal” humans (i.e males) will get 200 Times the Radiation Experienced on Earth, (what about females?)

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

 

It is amazing that in all this propaganda for putting a woman on the moon, – no mention is ever made, of the fact that women are much more susceptible to the effects of ionising radiation, meaning that their risk of developing cancer and other illnesses is greater than it is for men. Apparently the space enthusiasts are still buying into that traditional view that the ”normal” human being is male.

Moonwalking Humans Get Blasted With 200 Times the Radiation Experienced on Earth, Smithsonian Magazine ,

By Alex Fox, SMITHSONIANMAG.COM, SEPTEMBER 29, 2020
The new findings will inform how much shielding future astronauts will need to safely explore the moon,  The 12 human beings who have walked on the moon were all bombarded by radiation roughly 200 times what we experience here on Earth, reports Adam Mann for Science. That’s two to three times what astronauts experience aboard the International Space Station, explains Marcia Dunn for the Associated Press (AP), suggesting that any long term human presence on the moon will require shelters with thick walls capable of blocking the radiation.

The 12 human beings who have walked on the moon were all bombarded by radiation roughly 200 times what we experience here on Earth, reports Adam Mann for Science. That’s two to three times what astronauts experience aboard the International Space Station, explains Marcia Dunn for the Associated Press (AP), suggesting that any long term human presence on the moon will require shelters with thick walls capable of blocking the radiation.

Despite the fact that the measurements, which come courtesy of China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander, are quite high compared to what we experience on Earth, the data is quite useful for protecting future moonwalkers. According to Science, the levels of radiation at the lunar surface wouldn’t be expected to increase the risk of NASA astronauts developing cancer by more than 3 percent—a risk threshold the agency is legally required to keep its astronauts’ activities safely below.

Despite the fact that the measurements, which come courtesy of China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander, are quite high compared to what we experience on Earth, the data is quite useful for protecting future moonwalkers. According to Science, the levels of radiation at the lunar surface wouldn’t be expected to increase the risk of NASA astronauts developing cancer by more than 3 percent—a risk threshold the agency is legally required to keep its astronauts’ activities safely below……

Some forms of radiation, which is electromagnetic energy emitted in forms like heat, visible light, X-rays and radio waves, can mess with the cells inside the human body by breaking up the atoms and molecules they’re made of. On Earth, most people are familiar with ultraviolet radiation’s harmful effects on our skin, but in space, astronauts are also subjected to galactic cosmic rays, accelerated solar particles, neutrons and gamma rays, according to the research published this week in the journal Science Advances. This material can damage our DNA and lead to increased incidences of cancer or contribute to other health problems such as cataracts and degenerative diseases of the central nervous system or other organ systems.

Humanity measured the radiation astronauts on the Apollo missions experienced on their journeys to the moon, but those measurements were cumulative for each astronaut’s entire journey, per Science. To figure out the daily dose of radiation exclusively on the surface of the moon, the robotic Chang’e-4 lander used a stack of ten silicon solid-state detectors.

The renewed interest in collecting such measurements is partly because NASA has plans to send more people to the moon. The Artemis moon mission, scheduled for 2024, will feature the first woman ever to walk on the moon as well as a week-long expedition to the lunar surface and a minimum of two moonwalks, reports Katie Hunt for CNN.

Berger tells the AP that these new findings suggest the shelters needed to protect Artemis’ astronauts during such a long stay on the moon should have walls made of moon dirt that are some two and a half feet thick. Science notes that the shelter would also need an even more heavily shielded inner sanctum to protect astronauts in the event of a solar storm. Adequate shielding for this inner chamber would be roughly 30 feet of water, and would also need to be reachable within 30 minutes—the current limit of satellites’ abilities to provide astronauts with advanced warning of such hazards.

The findings aren’t exactly suprising: they are in line with calculations made using existing measurements. But they’re a crucial step towards putting people on the surface of the moon for extended periods of time. According to Science, the results confirm that with proper shielding astronauts could spend as long as six months on the moon.  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/moonwalking-humans-get-blasted-200-times-radiation-experienced-earth-180975926/

October 1, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

Lunar base woud have to be underground, due to the danger of high radiation on the moon

After measuring radiation on the moon for the first time, scientists say a lunar base should be built underground to protect astronauts, Business Insider, AYLIN WOODWARD, SEP 30, 2020, 

  • NASA recently unveiled the plan for its Artemis program, a series of missions that would return astronauts to the moon.
  • A new study found how much radiation astronauts are exposed to on the lunar surface: a daily dose about 200 times as great as on Earth.
  • NASA wants to build a base on the moon, but the new data suggests it’d be safest to bury such a base under 2.5 feet of moon dirt to protect astronauts from radiation.
NASA wants to build a permanent base on the moon by the 2030s — a place astronauts could stay for extended visits at the lunar south pole.

But a new study found that any astronauts who go there would face levels of radiation nearly three times as high as what the astronauts on the space station deal with. Long-term exposure to enough of this cosmic radiation poses significant health risks, including cataracts, cancer, and diseases of the central nervous system.

The new research, published last week in the journal Science, calculated for the first time what a moonwalker’s daily dose of radiation would be.

“If you think about people staying on the moon for extended periods of time — say, on a scientific research station for a year or two — then these levels start getting problematic,” Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber, an author of the new study, told Business Insider.

The solution, he said, would be to build any lunar base beneath the moon’s surface.

“Covering your habitat with sufficient amounts of lunar dirt should do the trick,” Wimmer-Schweingruber said.

The first study to calculate radiation on the moon

Apollo astronauts carried radiation-measuring instruments on their missions in the 1960s and ’70s, but those dosimeters could tell scientists only the total amount of radiation the astronauts were exposed to throughout their time in space, from blasting off to landing, not just on the moon.

Wimmer-Schweingruber’s team was able to document daily radiation levels on the moon’s surface by analysing data collected by China’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft, which landed in January 2019………

Astronauts on the moon, meanwhile, face a daily radiation level five to 10 times as high as transatlantic fliers, since the moon doesn’t have the shield that Earth does.

So an astronaut on the lunar surface would be exposed to 1,369 microsieverts of radiation per day, about 200 times the daily level on Earth. ……….. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/radiation-on-the-moon-lunar-base-should-be-buried-2020-9?r=US&IR=T

October 1, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, space travel | Leave a comment

Radiation exposure on the moon is nearly three times that on the International Space Station

Radiation exposure on the moon is nearly three times that on the ISS, 25 September 2020

By Layal Liverpool Astronauts on the moon would face nearly three times more radiation exposure than those aboard the International Space Station, which could make long-term missions riskier than thought.

“Once you’ve survived being on the moon and come back to Earth, radiation damage is what stays with you for the rest of your life and that’s why this is a critical measurement,” says Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber at the University of Kiel in Germany.

Wimmer-Schweingruber and his team analysed several weeks of data acquired by China’s Chang’e … (subscribers only) https://www.newscientist.com/article/2255545-radiation-exposure-on-the-moon-is-nearly-three-times-that-on-the-iss/#ixzz6Z61souv7

September 26, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

As Dept of Energy officials enthuse over nuclear in space, they show their disdain for health and safety in pandemic

Here we see 9 DOE officials all close to each other –  bugger social distancing.  Typical nuclear enthusiasts, 7 men confident, think they’re invincible? next to them , the two token women, wearing masks –  they have some grasp of the need for safety and public health measures in the pandemic.

 

US Ramps Up Planning for Space Nuclear Technology  AIP,  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……..https://www.aip.org/fyi/2020/us-ramps-planning-space-nuclear-technology

August 1, 2020 Posted by | health, space travel | Leave a comment

Problems in USA’s rush to put a nuclear reactor on the moon

America Wants to Put a Nuclear Power Plant on the Moon

What happens to all that highly enriched uranium in space?  Popular Mechanics, BY CAROLINE DELBERT, JUL 30, 2020   


Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DoE) Idaho National Laboratory have a new design for a nuclear power plant they say could allow humans to more easily live on the moon. As part of a form plan, the scientists say they want to have the fission reactor, safe launch, and landing system ready by 2027

What are the challenges of generating nuclear energy on the moon?

Designing this special reactor is kind of like adapting terrestrial technology to be mounted on, say, a residential sailboat. The fundamentals can be the same, but there are limitations because of the different environment. A power plant for the moon must be almost totally self-sufficient and run without the influence of gravity or Earth’s atmosphere. It has to be light and small enough that everything can be lifted into space.

Design Development Today reports that the Union of Concerned Scientists expressed, well, concerns:

“Edwin Lyman, director of Nuclear Power Safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit, said his organization is concerned the parameters of the design and timeline make the most likely reactors those that use highly enriched uranium, which can be made into weapons. Nations have generally been attempting to reduce the amount of enriched uranium being produced for that reason.”

While the Idaho National Laboratory and the DoE broadly are pushing for “advanced” reactor technology in terms of issues like modularity and safety, the “parameters of the design and timeline” they refer to—in this case advocating for a small, reliable, space-friendly design in just 6 years—almost definitely rules out the modular reactors being developed and certified now.

To fully test and regulate these reactors—and design the special edition to send to the moon in this timeframe—is probably impossible. To rush any nuclear approval is a terrible idea, not just for safety, but also for a public that’s already shy about nuclear energy.

Technology like thorium fuel is still far from ready for the market….

August 1, 2020 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

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……..https://www.aip.org/fyi/2020/us-ramps-planning-space-nuclear-technology

August 1, 2020 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

USA wants nuclear power stations on the moon and on Mars

U.S. eyes building nuclear power plants for moon and Mars    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/u-s-eyes-building-nuclear-nts-fpower-plaor-moon-and-mars  Nation Jul 24, 2020 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The U.S. wants to build nuclear power plants that will work on the moon and Mars, and on Friday put out a request for ideas from the private sector on how to do that.

The U.S. Department of Energy put out the formal request to build what it calls a fission surface power system that could allow humans to live for long periods in harsh space environments.

The Idaho National Laboratory, a nuclear research facility in eastern Idaho, the Energy Department and NASA will evaluate the ideas for developing the reactor.

The lab has been leading the way in the U.S. on advanced reactors, some of them micro reactors and others that can operate without water for cooling. Water-cooled nuclear reactors are the vast majority of reactors on Earth.

“Small nuclear reactors can provide the power capability necessary for space exploration missions of interest to the Federal government,” the Energy Department wrote in the notice published Friday.

The Energy Department, NASA and Battelle Energy Alliance, the U.S. contractor that manages the Idaho National Laboratory, plan to hold a government-industry webcast technical meeting in August concerning expectations for the program.

The plan has two phases. The first is developing a reactor design. The second is building a test reactor, a second reactor be sent to the moon, and developing a flight system and lander that can transport the reactor to the moon. The goal is to have a reactor, flight system and lander ready to go by the end of 2026.

The reactor must be able to generate an uninterrupted electricity output of at least 10 kilowatts. The average U.S. residential home, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, uses about 11,000 kilowatt-hours per year. The Energy Department said it would likely take multiple linked reactors to meet power needs on the moon or Mars.

In addition, the reactor cannot weigh more than 7,700 pounds (3,500 kilograms), be able to operate in space, operate mostly autonomously, and run for at least 10 years.

“This may drive or start an international space race to build and deploy new types of reactors requiring highly enriched uranium.”

– Edwin Lyman, director of Nuclear Power Safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists

The Energy Department said the reactor is intended to support exploration in the south polar region of the moon. The agency said a specific region on the Martian surface for exploration has not yet been identified.

Edwin Lyman, director of Nuclear Power Safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit, said his organization is concerned the parameters of the design and timeline make the most likely reactors those that use highly enriched uranium, which can be made into weapons. Nations have generally been attempting to reduce the amount of enriched uranium being produced for that reason.

“This may drive or start an international space race to build and deploy new types of reactors requiring highly enriched uranium,” he said.

Earlier this week, the United Arab Emirates launched an orbiter to Mars and China launched an orbiter, lander and rover. The U.S. has already landed rovers on the red planet and is planning to send another next week.

Officials say operating a nuclear reactor on the moon would be a first step to building a modified version to operate in the different conditions found on Mars.

“Idaho National Laboratory has a central role in emphasizing the United States’ global leadership in nuclear innovation, with the anticipated demonstration of advanced reactors on the INL site,” John Wagner, associate laboratory director of INL’s Nuclear Science & Technology Directorate, said in a statement. “The prospect of deploying an advanced reactor to the lunar surface is as exciting as it is challenging.”

July 27, 2020 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Space archaeology, space junk and weapons, and long-lasting radioactivity

While the nuclear macho men plan more nuclear, and nuclear weapons in space, it seems that it takes a woman, Alice Gorman, to investigate the radioactive pollution on Earth and in space, due to these activities

Nuclear sites still dangerous in 24,000 years, say space archaeologists
Some nuclear tests were conducted also in outer space and nuclear fuel was employed as propellant for rockets.    https://www.jpost.com/health-science/nuclear-sites-still-dangerous-in-24000-years-space-archaeologists-say-636379
By ROSSELLA TERCATIN   JULY 26, 2020   

 In July 1945, a test conducted in the deserts of New Mexico officially propelled humanity into the nuclear era. Only weeks after the Trinity Test, two atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the following decades, while no other nuclear device was detonated in an act of war, military tests and studies continued.
Seventy-five years later, space archaeologists are wondering how to warn humanity of the future that the sites where these experiments were carried out are still dangerous, Alice Gorman, associate professor at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, told The Jerusalem Post.
“The type of plutonium used in the Trinity Test, plutonium-239, has a half-life of 24,000 years, meaning that after this time, only half of it will have decayed into a safe, non-radioactive element. How do we communicate to people living then that the site is dangerous?”

Gorman said the issue presents two challenging elements: What materials can survive such a long time, and what form of language can be used to deliver the actual message?

“As for the first difficulty, we know that stones and pottery last a very long time,” she said. “But the second point raises a big archaeological question related to symbolic communication. If we look at rock art from 20,000 years ago, we can see that there are pictures of animals, but we do not know what those pictures mean. Therefore, it is possible that our current symbols to mark radioactive sites, the yellow [and] black sign, will be interpreted as an invitation to explore the area, rather than to keep away from it.”

The issue is especially important for archaeologists of the future because in some cases, while the danger would be very limited or
not even relevant on the surface, the nuclear waste and its radiation are deeper in the ground, and conducting a dig would be
especially risky. For example, such is the case of Maralinga, a remote area in southern Australia where the UK conducted several
nuclear tests.
Some nuclear tests were conducted in outer space, and nuclear fuel was employed as propellant for rockets.
If the UN Outer Space Treaty of 1967 prohibited nuclear weapons in space, the issue of its weaponization remains very relevant.“Recently, Russia tested an anti-satellite weapon, reawakening the debate,” Gorman told the Post.

She began to work in space archaeology following years of work focused on stone-tool analysis and the aboriginal use of bottle glass after European settlement.

Space archaeology deals with the same issues of regular archaeology, understanding material culture, human behavior and the interaction with the surrounding environment, Gorman said.

“However, we are looking at the post-Second World War period, when the very same rockets that had been developed as missiles started to send spacecraft into orbit,” she said. “We are interested in all of what is on earth, like rocket launch sites or tracking antennas and reception development, as well as town or residential areas where people who worked on these projects live, but also satellites, space junk and all the places on other planets where humans have sent spacecrafts.”
“We are asking the same questions other archaeologists are, but we have the limitations that we cannot visit many of the sites in person, and instead, we have to rely on records or images,” she added.

Gorman was drawn to space archaeology by the idea of exploring space junk, those many objects that cannot even be seen in the sky circling the Earth. Currently, she is working on the archaeology of the International Space Station.
The recent attempt by Israel to land a robotic unit on the moon with the Beresheet mission represents a very interesting development for space archaeologists, Gorman said.

“For many decades, the only material cultures present on the moon were the American and the Soviet one,” she said. “As new countries have started to reach the moon, this has changed, bringing more diversity to the field.”

July 27, 2020 Posted by | - plutonium, 2 WORLD, space travel | Leave a comment

Outer space beginning to look like a new area of nuclear conflict, according to Pentagon

THE PENTAGON IS WORRIED A SPACE NUKE WILL FRY ITS SATELLITES,   https://futurism.com/the-byte/pentagon-worried-space-nuke-fry-satellites   JUNE 18TH 20__DAN ROBITZSKI__

Space Nukes

The U.S. Department of Defense released a new space strategy report on Wednesday. In it, the military revealed that it’s concerned that nukes detonated in space could wipe out its fleet of satellites.

It’s not a new concern, since space nukes were originally banned in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. But all the same, Business Insider reports that the Pentagon is particularly concerned that China and Russia might strike — a dire warning for the future of combat.

The report specifically identified China and Russia as immediate threats. Such an attack could potentially devastate military communication networks as well as the myriad other systems that depend on satellites.

“The challenge of a nuclear detonation is that it creates an electromagnetic pulse and a signal that could then take out indiscriminately many satellites in space and essentially fry the electronics,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Stephen Kitay said at a press conference on the report, according to BI.

“That is a threat that we have to potentially be prepared for — a nuclear detonation in space,” he added.

If nothing else, the report is yet another sign that the idea of space remaining peaceful seems to be slipping away.

“I wish I could say that space is a sea of tranquility, but the fact of the matter is that space is contested,” Kitay said. “Outer space has emerged as a key arena of potential conflict in an era of great power competition.”

June 27, 2020 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Trump’s ominous creation of the U.S. Space Force – for the purposes of war

How much will it cost?  The vast costs will be shouldered by taxpayers, likely by slashing funding for essential social needs. The aerospace industry has suggested defunding “entitlement programs” to pay for “everything space.” That would likely include cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid among other social and welfare programs. In his proposed fiscal year 2021 budget, Trump is recommending $15.4 billion for the Space Force. The Space Force, if it is allowed to continue, will clearly be a multi-billion dollar annual affair. 

Who will profit?
Raytheon is emerging as a major beneficiary of Space Force work. Perhaps not uncoincidentally, Mark Esper, Trump’s U.S. Secretary of Defense at the time the Space Force was announced, is a former lobbyist for the corporation. Other major contractors for the Space Force will be Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, the world’s biggest military contractor.

Space Force is no laughing matter,  May 31, 2020 by beyondnuclearinternational   

What started as “a joke” his now deadly serious; and just plain deadly Continue reading

June 1, 2020 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Here’s a supremely unaffordable nuclear fantasy – reactors on the moon and Mars

NASA Wants to Go Nuclear on the Moon and Mars for Astronaut Settlement, SciTech Daily  By AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY MAY 31, 2020 m  It might sound like science fiction, but scientists are preparing to build colonies on the moon and, eventually, Mars. With NASA planning its next human mission to the moon in 2024, researchers are looking for options to power settlements on the lunar surface. According to a new article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, nuclear fission reactors have emerged as top candidates to generate electricity in space.

………. Nuclear devices that run on decaying plutonium-238 have been used to power spacecraft since the 1960s, including Mars rovers and the space probes Voyager and Cassini, but they don’t provide enough energy for a settlement. In contrast, nuclear fission reactors that split uranium-235 atoms, which are used by power plants here on Earth, could provide a reliable power source for a small space settlement for several years, scientists estimate.
Despite funding and design setbacks, researchers are reinvigorating efforts to create a nuclear reactor for space travel and settlement. In the early 2010s, a team of scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory, NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy came together with the goal of developing a new nuclear fission system that could produce at least 10 kilowatts of energy. With a core containing molybdenum and highly enriched uranium, the reactor uses nuclear fission to generate heat, which is converted to electricity by simple piston-driven engines. The prototype, which was tested in 2018, produced up to 5 kilowatts of electricity. The researchers hope to optimize the technology to achieve the desired 10-kilowatt output. They also say that transporting uranium in space can be done safely, as the alpha particles emitted by the core are weak and can be fully contained by proper shielding .   https://scitechdaily.com/nasa-wants-to-go-nuclear-on-the-moon-and-mars-for-astronaut-settlement/

June 1, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, space travel, USA | Leave a comment