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The media revels in rockets to Mars, ignores the horrible risk of plutonium pollution

Plutonium, Perseverance and the Spellbound Press, Karl Grossman 

            With all the media hoopla last week about the Perseverance rover, frequently unreported was that its energy source is plutonium—considered the most lethal of all radioactive substances—and nowhere in media that NASA projected 1-in-960 odds of the plutonium being released in an accident on the mission.

“A ‘1-in-960 chance’ of a deadly plutonium release is a real concern—gamblers in Las Vegas would be happy with those odds,” says Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

Indeed, big-money lotteries have odds far higher than 1-in-960 and routinely people win those lotteries.

Further, NASA’s Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the $3.7 billion mission acknowledges that an “alternative” power source for Perseverance could have been solar energy. Solar energy using photovoltaic panels has been the power source for a succession of Mars rovers.

For an accident releasing plutonium on the Perseverance launch—and 1 in 100 rockets undergo major malfunctions on launch mostly by blowing up—NASA in its SEIS described these impacts for the area around the Cape Kennedy under a heading “Impacts of Radiological Releases on the Environment.” Continue reading

February 25, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, 2 WORLD, space travel | Leave a comment

‘Medical Scientific’ committee, stacked with nuclear executives, promotes nuclear power in space

“The nuclear industry views space as a new—and wide-open—market for their toxic product that has run its dirty course on Mother Earth.”

“Now it appears that the nuclear industry has also infiltrated the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that has been studying missions to Mars. ”

It’s going to take enormous grassroots action—and efforts by those in public office who understand the error of the space direction being taken—to stop it.

Nuclear Rockets to Mars?, BY KARL GROSSMAN– CounterPunch, 16 Feb 21,

A report advocating rocket propulsion by nuclear power for U.S. missions to Mars, written by a committee packed with individuals deeply involved in nuclear power, was issued last week by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

The 104-page report also lays out “synergies” in space nuclear activities between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. military, something not advanced explicitly since the founding of NASA as a civilian agency supposedly in 1958.

The report states: “Space nuclear propulsion and power systems have the potential to provide the United States with military advantages…NASA could benefit programmatically by working with a DoD [Department of Defense] program having national security objectives.”’

The report was produced “by contract” with NASA, it states.

The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) describes itself as having been “created to advise the nation” with “independent, objective advice to inform policy.”

The 11 members of the committee that put together the report for the National Academy includes: Jonathan W. Cirtain, president of Advanced Technologies, “a subsidiary of BWX Technologies which is the sole manufacturer of nuclear reactors for the U.S. Navy,” the report states; Roger M. Myers, owner of R. Myers Consulting and who previously at Aerojet Rocketdyne “oversaw programs and strategic planning for next-generation in-space missions [that] included nuclear thermal propulsion and nuclear electric power systems; Shannon M. Bragg-Sitton, the “lead for integrated energy systems in the Nuclear Science and Technology Directorate at the Idaho National Laboratory:” Tabitha Dodson, who at the U.S. government’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency is chief engineer of a program “that is developing a nuclear thermal propulsion system;” Joseph A. Sholtis, Jr., “owner and principal of Sholtis Engineering & Safety Consulting, providing expert nuclear, aerospace, and systems engineering services to government, national laboratories, industry, and academia since 1993.” And so on.

The NAS report is titled: “Space Nuclear Propulsion for Human Mars Exploration.” It is not classified and is available here.

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, from its offices in Maine in the U.S., declared: “The nuclear industry views space as a new—and wide-open—market for their toxic product that has run its dirty course on Mother Earth.”

“During our campaigns in 1989, 1990, and 1997 to stop NASA’s Galileo, Ulysses and Cassini plutonium-fueled space probe launches, we learned that the nuclear industry positioned its agents inside NASA committees that made the decisions on what kinds of power sources would be placed on those deep space missions,” said Gagnon. “Now it appears that the nuclear industry has also infiltrated the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that has been studying missions to Mars.  The recommendation, not any surprise, is that nuclear reactors are the best way to power a Mars mission.”

“It’s not the best for us Earthlings because the Department of Energy has a bad track record of human and environmental contamination as they fabricate nuclear devices. An accident at launch could have catastrophic consequences.”

Stated Gagnon: “We fought the DoE and NASA on those previous nuclear launches and are entering the battle again. The nuclear industry has its sights set on nuclear-powered mining colonies on an assortment of planetary bodies—all necessitating legions of nuclear devices being produced at DoE and then launched on rockets that blow up from time to time.”

“We urge the public to help us pressure NASA and DoE to say no to nukes in space. We’ve got to protect life here on this planet. We are in the middle of a pandemic and people have lost jobs, homes, health care and even food on their table.”

“Trips to Mars can wait,” said Gagnon.

There have been accidents in the history of the U.S.—and also the former Soviet Union and now Russia—using nuclear power in space……

(Article goes on to explain how solar power can be, and is being used for space travel and research)

The NAS committee, however, was mainly interested in a choice between a “nuclear thermal propulsion” (NTP) or “nuclear electric propulsion” (NEP) for rocket propulsion…….

“Advanced nuclear propulsion systems (along or in combination with chemical propulsion systems) have the potential to substantially reduce trip time” to Mars “compared to fully non-nuclear approaches,” says the report.

An issue: radioactivity from either of the systems affecting human beings on the rockets with nuclear reactors propelling them. Back after World War II with the Cold War beginning, the U.S. began working on bombers propelled by onboard nuclear reactors—even built one. The idea was that such bombers could stay aloft for days ready to drop nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union. No crews would need to be scrambled and bombers then sent aloft.

But, as The Atlantic magazine noted in a 2019 article titled, “Why There Are No Nuclear Airplanes”:

“The problem of shielding pilots from the reactor’s radiation proved even more difficult. What good would a plane be that killed its own pilots? To protect the crew from radioactivity, the reactor needed thick and heavy layers of shielding. But to take off, the plane needed to be as light as possible. Adequate shielding seemed incompatible with flight. Still, engineers theorized that the weight saved from needing no fuel might be enough to offset the reactor and its shielding. The United States spent 16 years tinkering with the idea, to no avail”

The Eisenhower administration concluded that the program was unnecessary, dangerous, and too expensive. On March 28, 1961, the newly inaugurated President John F. Kennedy canceled the program. Proposals for nuclear-powered airplanes have popped up since then, but the fear of radiation and the lack of funding have kept all such ideas down.”……

The “synergies” in space nuclear activities between NASA and the U.S. military advanced in the NAS report mark a change in public acknowledgement. The agency was supposed to have a distinctly civilian orientation, encouraging peaceful applications in space science.

However, throughout the decades there have been numerous reports on its close relationship with the U.S. military—notably during the period of NASA Space Shuttle flights. As a 2018 piece in Smithsonian Magazine noted, “During the heyday of the space shuttle, NASA would routinely ferry classified payloads into orbit for the Department of Deense among other projects the agencies have collaborated on.”

With the formation of a U.S. Space Force by the Trump administration in 2019, the NASA-Pentagon link would appear to be coming out of the shadows, as indicated by the NAS report. The Biden administration is not intending to eliminate the Space Force, despite the landmark Outer Space Treaty of 1967 put together by the U.S., the then Soviet Union and the U.K, setting aside space for peaceful purposes. It is giving the new sixth branch of U.S. armed forces “full support,” according to his spokesperson Jen Psaki.

The NAS report says, “Areas of common interest include (1) fundamental questions about the development and testing of materials (such as reactor fuels and moderators) that can survive NTP conditions and (2) advancing modeling and simulation capabilities that are relevant to NTP.” And, “Additionally, a NASA NTP system could potentially use a scaled-up version of a DoD reactor, depending on the design.”

It declares: “Threats to U.S. space assets are increasing. They include anti-satellite weapons and counter-space activities. Crossing vast distances of space rapidly with a reasonably sized vehicle in response to these threats requires a propulsion system with high Isp [Specific Impulse] and thrust. This could be especially important in a high-tempo military conflict.”

Moreover, on December 19, just before he was to leave office, Trump signed Space Policy Directive-6, titled “National Strategy for Space Nuclear Propulsion.” Its provisions include: “DoD [Department of Defense] and NASA, in cooperation with DOE [Department of Energy}, and with other agencies and private-sector partners, as appropriate, should evaluate technology options and associated key technical challenges for an NTP [Nuclear Thermal Propulsion] system, including reactor designs, power conversion, and thermal management. DoD and NASA should work with their partners to evaluate and use opportunities for commonality with other SNPP [Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion] needs, terrestrial power needs, and reactor demonstration projects planned by agencies and the private sector.”

It continues: “DoD, in coordination with DOE and other agencies, and with private sector partners, as appropriate, should develop reactor and propulsion system technologies that will resolve the key technical challenges in areas such as reactor design and production, propulsion system and spacecraft design, and SNPP system integration.”

It’s going to take enormous grassroots action—and efforts by those in public office who understand the error of the space direction being taken—to stop it.

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet, and the Beyond Nuclear handbook, The U.S. Space Force and the dangers of nuclear power and nuclear war in space. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. more

February 18, 2021 Posted by | investigative journalism, politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Solar sails for space voyages

Nuclear Rockets to Mars?, BY KARL GROSSMAN– CounterPunch, 16 Feb 21,”………. As for rocket propulsion in the vacuum of space, it doesn’t take much conventional chemical propulsion to move a spacecraft—and fast.

And there was a comprehensive story in New Scientist magazine this past October on “The new age of sail,” as it was headlined. The subhead: “We are on the cusp of a new type of space travel that can take us to places no rocket could ever visit.”

The article began by relating 17th Century astronomer Johanne Kepler observing comets and seeing “that their tails always pointed away from the sun, no matter which direction they were traveling. To Kepler, it meant only one thing: the comet tails were being blown from the sun.”

Indeed, “the sun produces a wind in space” and “it can be harnessed,” said the piece. “First, there are particles of light streaming from the sun constantly, each carrying a tiny bit of momentum. Second, there is a flow of charged particles, mostly protons and electrons, also moving outwards from the sun. We call the charged particles the solar wind, but both streams are blowing a gale”—that’s in the vacuum of space.

Japan launched its Ikaros spacecraft in 2010—sailing in space using the energy from the sun. The LightSail 2 mission of The Planetary Society was launched in 2019—and it’s still up in space, flying with the sun’s energy.

New systems using solar power are being developed – past the current use of thin-film such as Mylar for solar sails.

The New Scientist article spoke of scientists “who want to use these new techniques to set a course for worlds currently far beyond our reach—namely the planets orbiting our nearest star, Alpha Centauri.”……. more

February 18, 2021 Posted by | Reference, renewable, space travel | Leave a comment

Accidents in both USA’s and Russia’s use of nuclear power in space

Nuclear Rockets to Mars?, BY KARL GROSSMAN– CounterPunch, 16 Feb 21”…………There have been accidents in the history of the U.S.—and also the former Soviet Union and now Russia—using nuclear power in space.

And the NAS report, deep into it, does acknowledge how accidents can happen with its new scheme of using nuclear power on rockets for missions to Mars.

It says: “Safety assurance for nuclear systems is essential to protect operating personnel as well as the general public and Earth’s environment.” Thus under the report’s plan, the rockets with the nuclear reactors onboard would be launched “with fresh [uranium] fuel before they have operated at power to ensure that the amount of radioactivity on board remains as low as practicable.” The plans include “restricting reactor startup and operations in space until spacecraft are in nuclear safe orbits or trajectories that ensure safety of Earth’s population and environment” But, “Additional policies and practices need to be established to prevent unintended system reentry during return to Earth after reactors have been operated for extended periods of time.”

The worst U.S. accident involving the use of nuclear power in space came in 1964 when the U.S. satellite Transit 5BN-3, powered by a SNAP-9A plutonium-fueled radioisotope thermoelectric generator, failed to achieve orbit and fell from the sky, disintegrating as it burned up in the atmosphere, globally spreading plutonium—considering the deadliest of all radioactive substances. That accident was long linked to a spike in global lung cancer rates where the plutonium was spread, by Dr. John Gofman, an M.D. and Ph. D., a professor of medical physics at the University of California at Berkeley. He also had been involved in developing some of the first methods for isolating plutonium for the Manhattan Project.

NASA, after the SNAP-9A (SNAP for Systems Nuclear Auxiliary Power) accident became a pioneer in developing solar photovoltaic power. All U.S. satellites now are energized by solar power, as is the International Space Station.

The worst accident involving nuclear power in space in the Soviet/Russian space program occurred in 1978 when the Cosmos 954 satellite with a nuclear reactor aboard fell from orbit and spread radioactive debris over a 373-mile swath from Great Slave Lake to Baker Lake in Canada. There were 110 pounds of highly-enriched (nearly 90 percent) of uranium fuel on Cosmos 954.

Highly-enriched uranium—90 percent is atomic bomb-grade—would be used in one reactor design proposed in the NAS report. And thus there is a passage about it under “Proliferation and security.” It states that “HEU [highly enriched uranium] fuel, by virtue of the ease with which it could be diverted to the production of nuclear weapons, is a higher value target than HALEU [high assay low enriched uranium], especially during launch and reentry accidents away from the launch site. As a result, HEU is viewed by nonproliferation experts as requiring more security considerations. In addition, if the United States uses HEU for space reactors, it could become more difficult to convince other countries to reduce their use of HEU in civilian applications.”

As for rocket propulsion in the vacuum of space, it doesn’t take much conventional chemical propulsion to move a spacecraft—and fast……..more

February 18, 2021 Posted by | incidents, Reference, Russia, space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Deploying weapons in space crosses a threshold that cannot be walked back.

weaponizing space could become a classic case of trying to solve one problem while creating a much worse problem.

It’s time for arms control planning to address the issues raised by this drift toward militarization of space. Space is a place where billions of defense dollars can evaporate quickly and result in more threats about which to be concerned. China and Russia have been proposing mechanisms for space arms control at the United Nations for years; it’s time for the U.S. to cooperate in this effort. 

Deploying weapons in space crosses a threshold that cannot be walked back. 

The US should negotiate a ban on basing weapons in space, BY JOHN FAIRLAMB,  — 02/04/21,

The Biden administration is assembling a deep bench of personnel with experience negotiating arms control agreements and already has agreed with Russia to extend the New Start Treaty. It’s clear the administration intends to initiate another look at the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review and the massive buildup in nuclear weapons begun by the Trump administration. While it’s good that the Biden administration intends to resume negotiations to continue nuclear force reductions, the specter of placing weapons in space is another area that requires a serious arms control effort.

Now that separate space organizations have been established, major military commands are advocating to develop new capabilities. Pentagon buzzwords characterize space as a “contested domain” and some consider actual war-fighting in space to be inevitable. Some advocates argue that the U.S. should strive for technological superiority in space to ensure our dominance of that critical domain. 

The history of technological advancement in weapons systems shows that any advantage gained usually lasts fewer than five years and guarantees a cycle of ever-increasing cost and new perceptions of threat. Already, there are weapons that can be targeted against space-based assets from non-space domains. Russia and China are believed to have deployed ground-based capabilities to attack satellites, and India joined this club last year by using a ground-based missile to bring down a satellite.  

Although it isn’t clear how the Biden administration will shape space policy, during his confirmation hearing, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin seemed to signal a shift away from a more muscular approach and back to a focus on space resiliency and protecting U.S. space assets. As one analyst concluded, the language Austin used signals the Biden team wants to “start to lean away from … the pugilistic aspects of what’s been articulated [by the Trump administration].” Responding to a question about what his advice would be to the U.S. Space Command concerning military space operations, Austin stressed measures to protect U.S. assets that don’t include offensive options for taking the fight to adversaries. While not a fully articulated space policy, this is a welcome change of tone after the past few years of heavy breathing about waging war in space.

If the U.S. and other nations continue the current drift toward organizing and equipping to wage war in space, Russia, China and others will strive to improve capabilities to destroy U.S. space assets. Over time, this would greatly increase the threat to the full array of U.S. space-based capabilities. Intelligence, communications, surveillance, targeting and navigation assets already based in space, upon which the Department of Defense (DOD) depends for command and control of military operations, increasingly would be at significant risk. As a consequence, weaponizing space could become a classic case of trying to solve one problem while creating a much worse problem.

For example, buried in the DOD 2020 budget is $150 million for research into putting missile defense assets in space to attack enemy nuclear missiles in the boost phase. If the U.S. or another nation does deploy weapons in space, it would be the first country to do so and likely would be a disaster for strategic stability. To ensure the credibility of their nuclear deterrents, Russia, China and others could be expected to respond by deploying additional and new types of long-range ballistic missiles, as well as missiles employing non-ballistic trajectories that are harder to hit.  Russia and China also would strive to improve their ability to destroy U.S. space-based interceptors, which would greatly increase the threat to the full array of U.S. space assets.

It’s time for arms control planning to address the issues raised by this drift toward militarization of space. Space is a place where billions of defense dollars can evaporate quickly and result in more threats about which to be concerned. China and Russia have been proposing mechanisms for space arms control at the United Nations for years; it’s time for the U.S. to cooperate in this effort. 

In 2015, Frank Rose, assistant secretary for arms control, verification and compliance in the State Department, called for arms control in space at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum workshop on space security. But, he said the Obama administration opposed a 2008 Russian and Chinese proposal to ban all weapons in space because it was unverifiable, contained no prohibition on developing and stockpiling space arms, and did not address ground-based space weapons such as direct ascent anti-satellite missiles.

Instead of just criticizing others’ proposals, the U.S. should join in the effort and do the hard work of crafting a space arms control agreement that deals with the concerns we have and that can be verified. A legally binding international treaty banning the basing of weapons in space should be the objective. 

Let’s be clear: Deploying weapons in space crosses a threshold that cannot be walked back.  Given the implications for strategic stability, and the likelihood that such a decision by any nation would set off an expensive space arms race in which any advantage gained would likely be temporary, engaging now to prevent such a debacle seems warranted.    

John Fairlamb, Ph.D., is a retired Army colonel with 45 years of government service, much of it in joint service positions formulating and implementing national security strategies and policies, including  two four-year details in the Department of State and as the political-military affairs adviser for a major Army command. His doctorate is in comparative defense policy analysis.  

February 5, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

America’s new strategy for space nuclear power pays little consideration to safety aspects

America’s New Strategy for Space Nuclear Power, By Zhanna Malekos Smith.  Wednesday, February 3, 2021 

Among the flurry of executive orders and proclamations signed during his final weeks in office, President Trump issued two directives that have received little fanfare—about space. One directive concerns enhancing the cybersecurity of GPS satellites. The other is perhaps more exciting: It focuses on exploring Mars and the moon.

Since the late 1960s, the United States has leveraged nuclear energy technology to help power spacecraft. Recent examples include the ongoing New Horizons mission, the Cassini mission to Saturn and the Voyager 1 mission to reach interstellar space for the first time in history. These missions used radioisotope power systems—nuclear energy technology that converts heat into energy by harnessing the natural radioactive decay of plutonium-238.
On Dec. 16, 2020, Trump established a national strategy for enhancing space nuclear power. Space Policy Directive-6 prioritizes developing more advanced radioisotope power systems capabilities and nuclear propulsion systems to support robotic and human exploration of Mars and the moon. Stretching across the solar system from Mercury to Neptune, the United States was the first state to reach every planet with a space probe and complete a reconnaissance study of the dwarf planet Pluto. Now, the United States is poised to become the first state to launch a space nuclear propulsion system under Space Policy Directive-6. According to the Trump White House’s directive, although “no space nuclear propulsion systems have been launched to-date,” these systems are necessary for space exploration because they will shorten travel time to Mars. But while the directive’s goal of space exploration is admirable, it gives too little attention to crucial safety considerations. …..
………. ….. Under this new policy, the United States could become the first state to launch a space nuclear propulsion system. As written, however, Space Policy Directive-6 provides greater guidance on leveraging advanced nuclear power systems to explore Mars than it does on promulgating security principles for criticality accident planning and launch safety.   

Criticality assessment—that is, evaluating each system function for potential points of failure and evaluating how to minimize loss of life or damage to the system in the event of an accident —is essential for many reasons. For example, it could help quickly determine a course of action if a nuclear-powered satellite were to malfunction and accidentally reenter the Earth’s atmosphere, contaminating Earth surfaces with radiation. But despite these concerns about accidental reentry from Earth orbit or during an Earth flyby, the directive is surprisingly silent on criticality assessment standards; instead, it briefly mentions that a “highly reliable operational system” is needed for spacecraft operating fission reactors in low-Earth orbits. Likewise, although the directive states that any sponsoring agency of space nuclear power and propulsion programs will hold the “primary responsibility for safety,” it fails to define the baseline safety standards for the operation and disposition of these advanced systems.
………….  if the U.S. cuts any safety corners for the operation and disposition of these advanced systems, other states may view that approach as something to emulate. As noted in the Department of Defense’s 2020 Defense Space Strategy, communicating with allies and other partners is necessary for ensuring space stability. ……
At the time of this writing, the Biden administration has not addressed the issue of space nuclear power. According to Breaking Defense, space policy “isn’t expected to have a high profile in the administration of incoming President Joe Biden, given the pandemic, the flailing economy, the climate crisis and a number of foreign policy challenges[.]” Even so, Lloyd J. Austin III testified, at his confirmation hearing to serve as secretary of defense, that “[i]f confirmed, I will ensure the space domain is carefully considered across the range of upcoming strategic reviews.”
………  To advance America’s strategic leadership in space, the new administration should ensure that these laudable space goals are pursued in equal measure with safely harnessing advanced nuclear power systems.

February 5, 2021 Posted by | safety, space travel, USA | Leave a comment

USA preparing for war in space

SPACECOM’s New Vision Targets ‘Space Superiority’

“We must have fully integrated offensive and defensive operations across all of our services, as well as our partners,” says Army Gen. James Dickinson, SPACECOM commander.

Breaking Defense, By   THERESAHITCHENSon January 28, 2021 “……… “The intended audience is both internal and external,” Army Gen. James Dickinson told me in an interview yesterday. “Internally, the objective is to set the stage for SPACECOM personnel to develop and sustain a warfighting mindset necessary for our mission challenges in this new warfighting domain.”………

Space Superiority and Warfighting

Dickinson’s eight-page manifesto, “Never A Day Without Space: Commander’s Vision” — provided to Breaking D — was briefed to SPACECOM today. It will be the “baseline” for future development of subordinate SPACECOM planning guidance, campaign plans, operational plans and other organizational documents required to running the 18-month-old Combatant Command, Dickinson explained.

The general’s stress on the need for both ‘offensive and defensive’ operations to achieve space superiority is not new, even if it makes some US security experts — including some Democrats in Congress — a bit queasy. It is one of the first things his predecessor, Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond who now heads the Space Force, made clear when SPACECOM was stood up in August 2019……..

Unified Command Plan and Missions

As Breaking D readers were first to learn, the revised UCP sent by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to President Trump included a number of changes designed to delineate the role of SPACECOM — designated as a new geographic command with an area of responsibility (AOR) from 100 kilometers above the Earth to, well, infinity and beyond in theory —  vice the 10 other Combatant Commands. These include giving SPACECOM the lead in deciding who gets priority use of communications satellites during combat, and what targets missile warning and space surveillance sensors are tasked to monitor. Trump signed the revised 2020 UCP Jan. 13, a spokesperson for the Joint Staff confirmed……..

Dickison elaborated during his conversation with Mitchell Institute Dean Dave Deptula that SPACECOM now has three primary missions: “One, our enduring, no-fail mission to enable warfighting operations in other domains. Two, our future mission as global SATCOM manager and global sensor manager. And three, our current new mission set compelling us to fight and win in the space domain in order to protect and defend our interests there.

“Additionally, this warfighting domain is growing, and this AOR is by far the biggest and is getting bigger, each day,” he added………

The ‘protect and defend’ mission, which would include any offensive action in a conflict, is carried out by the Joint Task Force Space Defense, commanded by Brig.  Gen. Tom James. ………

Despite the new UCP, however, Dickinson was coy with me about how exactly the decisions about who supports whom when are actually made, and at what level of the US military hierarchy. “Command decisions reside with the Combatant Commander,” he said, although “many of those decisions may be made well above us depending on the situation.”

Some of this, he said, is because such details remain classified. However, a number of sources intimately familiar with these issues tell me that a big problem is that there simply hasn’t yet been any agreements codified on how those decisions will be made. The hope is that the impending Joint Warfighting Concept, in which space plays a central role, will go some ways toward clarifying those questions…………

February 1, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The aerospace industry – the goal is weaponry and global dominance

January 26, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As pandemic cripples America, Donald Trump orders funding for military Small Nuclear Reactors in space

January 14, 2021 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, space travel, USA | 1 Comment

Never mind health spending: USA aims to be Topp in Space Race

January 4, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

The insanity of nuclear power in space

The Big Push for Nukes in Space,     BY KARL GROSSMAN.– 15 Dec 20, Last week a SpaceX rocket exploded in a fireball at the SpaceX site in Texas. “Fortunately,” reported Lester Holt on NBC TV’s Nightly News, “no one was aboard.”

But what if nuclear materials had been aboard?

The nuclear space issue is one I got into 35 years ago when I learned—from reading a U.S. Department of Energy newsletter—about two space shuttles, one the Challenger which was to be launched the following year with 24.2 pounds of plutonium aboard.

The plutonium the shuttles were to carry aloft in 1986 was to be used as fuel in radioisotope thermoelectric generators—RTGs—that were to provide a small amount of electric power for instruments on space probes to be released from the shuttles once the shuttles achieved orbit.

The plutonium-fueled RTGs had nothing to do with propulsion.

I used the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to ask what would be the consequences of an accident on launch, in the lower or upper atmosphere—and what about the dispersal of deadly plutonium. A few years earlier, I wrote Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power, so I was well familiar with plutonium, considered the most lethal radioactive substance.

For 10 months there was a stonewall of challenges to my FOIA request by DOE and NASA. Finally, I got the information, heavily redacted, with the claim that the likelihood of a shuttle accident releasing plutonium was “small.”

Said one document: “The risk would be small due to the high reliability inherent in the design of the Space Shuttle.” NASA put the odds of a catastrophic shuttle accident at one-in-100,000.

Then, on January 28, 1986 the Challenger blew up.

It was on its next mission—in May 1986—that it was slated to have a plutonium-fueled RTG aboard.

From a pay phone in an appliance store –amid scores of TV sets with that horrible video of the Challenger exploding—I called The Nation magazine and asked the folks there whether they knew that the next launch of the Challenger was to be a nuclear mission. They didn’t.

They had me write an editorial that appeared on The Nation’s front page titled “The Lethal Shuttle.” It began, “Far more than seven people could have died if the explosion that destroyed Challenger had occurred during the next launch…”

And I got deeper and deeper into the nukes-in-space issue—authoring two books, one The Wrong Stuff, presenting three TV documentaries, writing many hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles and speaking widely on the issue.

NASA, incidentally, later in 1986, drastically increased the odds of a catastrophic shuttle accident to one-in-76. It turned out the one-in-100,000 estimate was based on dubious guessing.

I found that accidents involving the use of nuclear power in space is not a sky-is-falling threat. In the then 26 U.S. space nuclear shots, there had been three accident, the worst in 1964 involving a satellite powered by a SNAP 9-A radioisotope thermoelectric generator fueled with plutonium.

The satellite failed to achieve orbit, broke up in the atmosphere as it came crashing back down to Earth, its plutonium dispersing as dust extensively on Earth. Dr. John Gofman, an M.D. and Ph.D., professor of medical physics at the University of California at Berkeley, formerly associate director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, author of Poisoned Power and involved in early studies of plutonium, long pointed to the SNAP 9-A accident as causing an increase in lung cancer on Earth.

Today the use of nuclear in space is being pushed harder than ever.

“US Eyes Building Nuclear Power Plants for Moon and Mars,” declared the headline this July of an Associated Press dispatch. “US Eyes Building Nuclear Power Plants for Moon and Mars”.

As Linda Pentz Gunter, editor at Beyond Nuclear International, recently wrote here on CounterPunch, “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.”

In July, too, the White House National Space Council issued a strategy for space exploration that includes “nuclear propulsion methods.” “US Ramps Up Planning for Space Nuclear Technology”

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems has come out with a design for a nuclear propulsion reactor for trips to Mars.

Nuclear propulsion, its promoters are saying, would get astronauts to Mars quicker.

Shouted the headline in Popular Mechanics last month: “The Thermal Nuclear Engine That Could Get Us to Mars in Just 3 Months.”

And Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Space X, has been touting the detonation of nuclear bombs on Mars to, he says, “transform it into an Earth-like planet.”

As Business Insider explains, Musk “has championed the idea of launching nuclear weapons just over Mars’ poles since 2015. He believes it will help warm the planet and make it more hospitable for human life.”

As says: “The explosions would vaporize a fair chunk of Mars’ ice caps, liberating enough water vapor and carbon dioxide—both potent greenhouse gases—to warm up the planet substantially, the idea goes.”

It’s been projected that it would take more than 10,000 nuclear bombs to carry out the Musk plan.

The nuclear bomb explosions would also would render Mars radioactive.

The nuclear bombs would be carried to Mars on the fleet of 1,000 Starships that Musk wants to build—like the one that blew up this week.

SpaceX is selling T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Nuke Mars.”

Beyond the this completely insane plan to ruin Mars, as on Earth, solar energy can provide all the power needed for would-be settlements on Mars and the Moon. Continue reading

December 29, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, space travel | 1 Comment

Trump Signs Directive to Bolster Nuclear Power in Space Exploration

December 24, 2020 Posted by | politics, space travel, USA | Leave a comment

USA to turn the moon into a nuclear weapons site

December 20, 2020 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

In midst of pandemic crisis, more U.S. tax-payer money to go to nuclear power in space

White House Issues Space Policy Directive on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion. Via Satellite, By Rachel Jewett | December 17, 2020   

The White House released Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6) on Wednesday regarding a U.S. national strategy for space nuclear power and propulsion (SNPP), technology that the White House said will be needed to fuel future space exploration

SPD-6 establishes that the U.S. government will pursue a roadmap for federally-supported space nuclear power and propulsion activities.

It set the following goals for development: “develop capabilities that enable production of fuel suitable to a range of planetary surface and inspace SNPP applications; demonstrate a fission power system on the Moon; establish technical foundations and capabilities that will enable options for in-space nuclear propulsion; and develop advanced radioisotope power systems to enable survivable surface systems and extend robotic exploration of the solar system.”………..

December 20, 2020 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

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……

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