NASA to accelerate space nuclear power!

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gunsandrockets

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Excerpt...<br /><br />-------------------------------------------------------------------<br />NASA's objective will be to use nuclear power much more frequently to open previously isolated areas of the solar system for robotic exploration as early as 2013, Aviation Week reports. NASA is moving quickly to make space nuclear power, and eventually nuclear propulsion, an inherent design element in near term, medium cost planetary missions.<br />----------------------------------------------------------------------------<br /><br /><br />Excellent! <br /><br />DIPS ain't a reactor, but I'll take anything we can get which helps cure the allergy to space nuclear power.<br /><br /><br />Aviation Week : NASA to accelerate space nuclear power
 
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steve82

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I'm beginning to think that "Nasa acceleration" is the same as "FAA modernization"
 
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docm

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You've got that right <img src="/images/icons/tongue.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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drwayne

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Federal Aviation Administration - responsible, among other things, for aircraft control centers.<br /><br />Wayne <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>"1) Give no quarter; 2) Take no prisoners; 3) Sink everything."  Admiral Jackie Fisher</p> </div>
 
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PistolPete

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Which could be used for more powerfull ion engines or other electrically based propulsion devices. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><em>So, again we are defeated. This victory belongs to the farmers, not us.</em></p><p><strong>-Kambei Shimada from the movie Seven Samurai</strong></p> </div>
 
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rocketscientist327

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I don't believe this. It is Project Prometheus re-packaged and I do not see it happening with all the other costs that NASA will incur with Constellation.<br /><br />Respectfully,<br />Rocket Scientist 327
 
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gunsandrockets

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<It is only for electrical power generation><br /><br />Other than restating the obvious, is there some other point you are trying to make?
 
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gunsandrockets

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<Which could be used for more powerfull ion engines or other electrically based propulsion devices.><br /><br />Sadly, no. The kind of power levels are too low for that.<br /><br />UPDATE: Then again I might be wrong!
 
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gunsandrockets

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<I don't believe this. It is Project Prometheus re-packaged...> <br /><br />?? <br /><br />How so? Considering...<br /><br />---------------------------------------------------------------------<br />The new nuclear planetary program element is dubbed the "Discovery and Scout Mission Capabilities Expansion." It is soliciting mission concept proposals for small planetary missions that require a nuclear power source, such as the Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) currently under development by NASA. "The Discovery and Scout Mission Capabilities Expansion program is intended to foster exploration in the planetary science community of missions enabled by nuclear power," a Sept. 20 NASA document says.<br />------------------------------------------------------------------<br /><br /><br /><br />
 
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docm

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<font color="yellow">Which could be used for more powerfull ion engines or other electrically based propulsion devices.</font><br /><br />Wrong. The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator will likely only produce a few hundred watts. The NEXT ion drive requires several kilowatts and VASIMR at least 200 kilowatts and better still at least a megawatt.<br /><br />What's needed for big electric drives is a small reactor powering a turbogenerator. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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windnwar

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well if they really live up to the 4 times more power, that means a unit with the amount of material the RTG in Cassini used should give you around 1-1.2 kilowatts versus the 300 watts existing RTG's put out. That means you could use one of these to replace the 3 RTG's needed for Cassini. Since PU238 is not an abundant material these days, that's alot more bang for the buck in power out, alternately if you'd used 3 of them Cassini would have had close to 3 kilowatts of power available, provided these things end up with a similar wieght to an RTG. <br /><br />This may not be a space based reactor, but its hard to say this isn't a big improvement. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font size="2" color="#0000ff">""Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." --Albert Einstein"</font></p> </div>
 
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gunsandrockets

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<This may not be a space based reactor, but its hard to say this isn't a big improvement. ><br /><br />Oh, I agree!<br /><br /><...alternately if you'd used 3 of them Cassini would have had close to 3 kilowatts of power available, provided these things end up with a similar wieght to an RTG. /><br /><br />Hmmm... I suppose if you stack them that way (and if the weight is low enough) they could be applied to electric-propulsion since the power level is then up around that of Deep Space 1.<br />
 
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bpfeifer

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Is this a perfect solution? No.<br /><br />Is it useful, and an improvement over existing RTG's? Yes.<br /><br />And with the average home consuming approximately 2kWatts, it may have applications for remote locations on Earth as well. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> Brian J. Pfeifer http://sabletower.wordpress.com<br /> The Dogsoldier Codex http://www.lulu.com/sabletower<br /> </div>
 
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radarredux

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I see four primary benefits of this program:<ol><li>Robotic missions to locations in the solar system too difficult to reach with existing chemical or solar-electric propulsion.<br /><br /><li>Opening up any location on the Moon for a settlement. The primary focus since ESAS was announced has been the South Pole because near continuous sunlight allows for solar-powered habitats. This program could deventuall open the door for more places.<br /><br /><li>Similarly, nuclear power will probably be needed for manned missions to Mars.<br /><br /><li>Opens up the public mind to nuclear power in space. <i>Eventually</i> we need to get nuclear power into space, but there is a strong public opinion against it. Something needs to get the process going so the public can get used to the idea.</li></li></li></li></ol>
 
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crix

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Excellent. This is a step in the right direction.<br /><br />This is NOT Prometheus, which was based on controled nuclear chain reaction. These engines are based on natural radioactive decay. ...if I understand things correctly.
 
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grdja

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Oh my god. Is it really true that even in space there is no escape from the steam engine? <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> Our entire civilizations runs on hot watter...
 
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windnwar

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lol or hot air... being its using helium. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font size="2" color="#0000ff">""Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." --Albert Einstein"</font></p> </div>
 
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holmec

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chuga...chug....LOL <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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grdja

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OK, i know this is going off topic. But why is it that converting nuclear, or chemical or solar power to heat, then to mechanical force, and only then to electricity so much efficient than any direct (photoelectric, thermocouple...) method?
 
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docm

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They're more efficient than thermocouples. Straight photovoltaic would not be converted, though it loses effectiveness as you get further from the sun. <br /><br />Betavoltaic, thermophotovoltaic and optoelectric nuclear power are still early on. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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grdja

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I was speaking generally, i heard somewhere that solar Stirling turbines are more efficient that photoelectrics.
 
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slidelock

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Anyone here familiar with the Chinese civilian nulear power plants? WIRED had a good write up a few years back. Hint, no steam engines!
 
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