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Why doesn't Nasa go Nuclear for the Next Space Shuttle?

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posted on May, 2 2006 @ 11:08 AM
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There was a notion in this thread that if something goes wrong with the nuclear-powered spacecraft, an area of 1or two square miles will be hit. This, of course, is far from truth. If you lift Chernobyl 20 miles up in the air and blow it to pieces, I guarantee you that very large stretches of land will be uninhabitable for a very, very long time due to radioactive contamination. You can take out a complete state with it. While not an expert, I know more about nuclear reactors than laypeople, and I don't feel comfortable with a flying reactor core, even though I think that ground based power plants can be in fact very safe.

In addition, such an apapratus will be a prime target for (you guessed it) terrorists of all sorts. Moreover, in case of hostilities, it can be a target for the enemy. If a missile tipped with low-yield nuke is exploded in the vicinity of the airborne reactor, it will likely detonate, producing an extremely massive and very "dirty" explosion. If this takes place at high altitude, there will an EMP event of huge proprtions. No good.

As for the ion drive, it still needs electricity to run. So it's catch 22.




posted on May, 2 2006 @ 11:23 AM
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Originally posted by Hellmutt
I wonder if Carbon Nanotubes will make it possible to create a radiation shield light enough to be used in a nuclear shuttle? While carbon nanotubes are superlight and incredibly strong, I'm not sure if the material can be used for a radiationshield. Maybe it can be used for the heat-shield?


Can they withstand heat or radiation? I've read that they are strong and durable, but I remember reading somewhere that a sample of them will combust after exposing it to a camera flash. If this is true then that idea might not work...



posted on May, 2 2006 @ 11:27 AM
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It seems to me that the biggest problem with space travel is getting out of the Earth's gravity well efficiently. For this my money is on the space elevator system.

The primary reason that nuclear power isn't being used for aircraft is that they don't have a way to prevent it from spewing radioactive particles when it is used. The nuclear aircraft engine worked, it would just contaminate the hell out of everything. This would probably hold true for a nuke rocket engine as well.



posted on May, 2 2006 @ 12:34 PM
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Originally posted by Aelita
There was a notion in this thread that if something goes wrong with the nuclear-powered spacecraft, an area of 1or two square miles will be hit. This, of course, is far from truth. If you lift Chernobyl 20 miles up in the air and blow it to pieces, I guarantee you that very large stretches of land will be uninhabitable for a very, very long time due to radioactive contamination. You can take out a complete state with it. While not an expert, I know more about nuclear reactors than laypeople, and I don't feel comfortable with a flying reactor core, even though I think that ground based power plants can be in fact very safe.

In addition, such an apapratus will be a prime target for (you guessed it) terrorists of all sorts. Moreover, in case of hostilities, it can be a target for the enemy. If a missile tipped with low-yield nuke is exploded in the vicinity of the airborne reactor, it will likely detonate, producing an extremely massive and very "dirty" explosion. If this takes place at high altitude, there will an EMP event of huge proprtions. No good.

As for the ion drive, it still needs electricity to run. So it's catch 22.


I don't think we need to be concerned about another Chernobyl here. There are plenty of safety precautions to keep it from ever becoming another one, Just because a nuke freefalls to the ground from 80,000 ft doesnt have to mean there will be nuclear fallout. Have you heard of Dial-a-nuke technology, this is for nuke bombs but still they can control how much energy will be released upon detonation, if they can do that with a bomb they could probably figure out a way to do the same thing with a nuke reactor.

We need to illustrate to the world that nuclear energy has as much possitve influence to the world if not greateer than its negative influence.



posted on May, 17 2006 @ 07:28 AM
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Why not just build it in space? Shuttle stuff required up to say a space station & build it there, use it only for space travel, have it big enough to carry a lander vehicle etc, negates the need ever to have to break out of any planet's gravity. Course you'd need something to power the smaller craft to land on any planets. Don't see why it couldn't be done.

Also money needs to be thrown at these kinds of things & not primarliy research, we need actual prototypes built & tested, trial & error in practice not on paper. That & competition are the only ways at the moment that anything will ever happen.

USA -V- USSR started it. Maybe someone like Richard Branson will take over??? Anyone think if the Chinese were interested enough that they'd give a second thought to launching with nuclear on board or powered by nuclear regardless of the dangers? No chance, they'd take the risk even if it killed a million people, then when they got to Mars (if no-one had made it there before them) they'd claim it as their own etc etc etc.

Reasonable to think that or not?



posted on May, 17 2006 @ 11:53 AM
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sounds good to me Sepryo.

While I'm sure something of this scale would cost a boat load(space craft) full of cash to built, think about how great it would be when completed.

Any space craft we build for space is going to cost gobs of money why not make sure that we do it right the first time in the hopes of saving ourselves from future expenses. Look

I am almost certain that this technology is within our grasp if we just pursue it a bit.

The US needs to illustrate to the world and itself the possitive side of Nuclear energy, this might be a great way to do so.



posted on May, 18 2006 @ 01:26 AM
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You have to look at the other side as well, initially the costs would be enormous but once the project was completed they would become irrevelant. I mean the size of the ship alone would mean you could probably have upwards of 10 "tourists" at any one time on board, you wouldn't have to worry about massive launch costs everytime you wanted to go somewhere, you'd be easily able to get to Mars & other planets, there'd be a reasonable chance that while the project was ongoing some kind of scientific discovery would be made that otherwise might not have been.

I'm pretty sure the ESA would chip in there & help as well, actually I'd say most if not all countries would, the question would be do you want them to help?

The other thing is you'd have to set strict deadlines for the design aspect of the build cos I'm pretty sure if you didn't then it would be unlikely anthing would ever be done.

Don't know the real reason behind why no-one is doing this or even planning to, sure as hell isn't because of some treaty about nuclear in space, it's naive to think that any country would hold to any agreement if the perceived benefit outweighed the cost.

Anyway I'd love to see someone from Earth get to Mars in my lifetime, whoever it would be, I'd also like to see them get there with a semblance of grace not in a barrel covered in duct tape with only a cheese sandwich & a fare thee well before being hurled at some planet with about 3.54986345% chance of making it back. Do it right then you can go again & again & again & not with gaps of 10-15 years between trips either.



posted on May, 18 2006 @ 01:43 AM
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Just had another thought about the cost issue. Let Nasa stay in charge, design, build etc but offer "berths" on your ship to countries, ie offer a maximum no of places on your mission of say 2 to any country that wants.

There'd have to be fairly strict rules about who went but it'd be a good way of funding the mission.

Could do sponsorship as well, computers, equipment, food, films, music, clothes, steel or whatever it's made of etc etc etc. I reckon if you had a good design, good build schedule etc you'd generate a couple of billion in about a month, probably even more in less time.



posted on May, 18 2006 @ 10:30 AM
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If youd like to read about it here is the link.

www.abovetopsecret.com...'

[edit on 18-5-2006 by sanctum]



posted on May, 18 2006 @ 08:49 PM
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There is a nuclear space craft program called Prometheus. Look it up on google sometime, it's probably up there.



posted on May, 19 2006 @ 01:09 PM
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thanks for the heads up T,

I found a couple links on it,...

exploration.nasa.gov...

www.spaceref.com...

How sexy would that be for the Next Space Shuttle?



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 01:43 AM
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The fact that there has been no attempt to make a Nuclear Powered Shuttle or even take the concept of it serious should show us how much the US does not want to inhabit the moon and Mars. A Nuclear Powered Shuttle could shorten the trip to Mars from 80 days to hopefully just a day.

The US Congress and Senate are willing to fund just about anything these days yet NASA still isn't getting the Cash that it is asking for. This should show every American that unless you can make money for your individual Congressman and Senator he will be indiffernt to the idea.

NASA means nothing to either house because it doesn't put any money in their pockets.

At this rate it will take us another 200 years to populate the moon. Big Business will make sure that Space Travel/Inhabiting the moon and Mars will only be an activity for the Rich and that the lower classes really shouldn't be interested in it since they will never be able to afford to get there.



posted on Jun, 7 2006 @ 10:38 PM
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This NASA invention, the radioisotope thermoelectric generator is currently being used on Nasa's New Horizon Probes and YES they are nuclear and YES they are SAFE!!

www.ne.doe.gov...'

This is exactly the type of propulsion we should be "rocketting" to the Moon and Mars with.

en.wikipedia.org...

This might even be what you want to switch out your battery cells on your hybrids with, I'm sure that would haul nuts.

and then I found this too,

www.aboutnuclear.org...,Future

Gas-Core Reactor Propulsion

"One of the best features of this design is the fact that the system does not to have to be in a critical (fissioning) state when you launch it. You could launch a space ship with a standard chemical rocket and, once successfully in orbit, the reactor system could be turned on, brought critical and the ship would then proceed under the tremendous power of the gas-core rocket."

that's pretty cool, it would Completely solve the "safety" concerns of the project.

That's some cool stuff any feedback?



posted on Jun, 7 2006 @ 11:12 PM
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Originally posted by Low Orbit
A Nuclear Powered Shuttle could shorten the trip to Mars from 80 days to hopefully just a day.


Uh... What?



NASA means nothing to either house because it doesn't put any money in their pockets.


Well, I'll agree with that.



Big Business will make sure that Space Travel/Inhabiting the moon and Mars will only be an activity for the Rich and that the lower classes really shouldn't be interested in it since they will never be able to afford to get there.


I doubt that. As soon as there is an easy way for things to be brought back from the Moon or Mars or elsewhere they'll gladly launch anyone and everyone up to work in mines and the support facilities. They're just waiting for the easy return.




This NASA invention, the radioisotope thermoelectric generator is currently being used on Nasa's New Horizon Probes and YES they are nuclear and YES they are SAFE!!


I think you're misunderstanding what the RTG does. It provides power to the electrical systems. It has nothing to do with propulsion.



posted on Jun, 8 2006 @ 01:35 AM
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The mine nuke has everything to do with the propulsion.
A rocket wont go without fuel an ion engine ont go with out power.
The more power you have the faster the ion engine will go.
nuke=lots of power=lots of speed right?



posted on Jun, 8 2006 @ 01:55 AM
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Cmdr - "I think you're misunderstanding what the RTG does. It provides power to the electrical systems. It has nothing to do with propulsion."

I thought that if you add electricity into a fuel mixture you get more energy output than without the electricity, and if that is true why couldn't they switch the setup so it could aid in propulsion?



posted on Jun, 8 2006 @ 01:59 AM
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You have to get the nuclear capability into space, so if it blows up in our atmosphere a lot of people are screwed. Also if the shuttle blew up in space would that have an impact on it. What if the space ship blew up on the moon with nuclear force what then. I guess good idea, but every thing must have a reaction, just because its outer space means there wont be a reaction.

We never tested a nuclear explosion in space, where there is no gravity. What happends if the explosion is devistating?



posted on Jun, 8 2006 @ 02:43 AM
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Originally posted by sepryo
Just had another thought about the cost issue. Let Nasa stay in charge, design, build etc but offer "berths" on your ship to countries, ie offer a maximum no of places on your mission of say 2 to any country that wants.


I think there is the problem altogther. NASA shouldn't be in charge.

A Global unified approach is the only way. We must approach space as one race - Human - not American, Russian, Euro, Japan etc.

It all BS and I'm sick of it. Lets allow another frikken 30+ years go by before we set foot on another celestial body.


Bragging rights is so 60's - I am aware competion is healthy, but their must be a better way.

BTW, I wouldn't worry bout a Shuttle with a nuke strapped on it - I'd worry about your SUV's and the general delusion everything is going to be OK attitude. But that's another thread altogether, right!


OSS

B



posted on Jun, 8 2006 @ 03:00 AM
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Originally posted by one_small_step

A Global unified approach is the only way. We must approach space as one race - Human - not American, Russian, Euro, Japan etc.


I agree with ya here but as much as I agree I don't see it as realistic atm.

I personally believe that the real reason no new space tech is being exposed is because we are still trying to backwards engineer crashed ET anti-gravity crafts.

I don't think the U.S. is the only nation working to backwards engineer crashed ET anti-gravity crafts either, I believe theres a few working on this.

Also I think that whatever nation is first to succeed in this will have the ability to conquer all the other nations if it decides to... yes even under MAD. Reason I believe this is because of this tech you will be able to fly to a silo and shut it down before the missle can be luanched or the craft could intercept the missle, either way the craft would be maned. Were talking about speeds of around 5-10k mph on the planet btw. Antigravity tech will have the ability to stop nuclear missles is what I'm saying... of course as long as you have enough craft to stop them all.

[edit on 8-6-2006 by Techsnow]



posted on Jun, 8 2006 @ 08:26 AM
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Originally posted by Low Orbit
I thought that if you add electricity into a fuel mixture you get more energy output than without the electricity, and if that is true why couldn't they switch the setup so it could aid in propulsion?


Not that I've ever heard, but then again, I haven't heard everything. I suppose an RTG could be used to power an ion engine, but it would be really inefficient.



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