POLL: Nuclear-Powered Moon Bases?

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Should Moon Bases Be Nuclear-Powered?

  • Duh! It's the cheapest, most effective way to go.

    Votes: 65 83.3%
  • One word: solar (plus two more words: no clouds!).

    Votes: 11 14.1%
  • This is nuts! We must not export such dangerous and dirty technology to another world.

    Votes: 2 2.6%

  • Total voters
    78
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the_harper

Guest
I didn't vote because my preferred response isn't available - both. Why rely on a single power source? You need redundancy on a long term base far more than under other space flight circumstances. As for the day/night argument and solar, if you have sufficient solar power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, you have fuel and a means of recycling water. I would think for safety reasons, at least three power sources should be used such as nuclear, solar and stored energy such as fuel cells, batteries or O2/H2 gas. We should finally look at recycling the air using plants to get O2 from CO2. I can't see how a moon base would be sustainable unless they can make O2 from CO2. Plants can also be used for food. You really need to establish a mini-ecosystem.
 
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rhapsodyinspace2

Guest
Very, Very SWEET! Guess what is going on my christmas list for my trip! . I beat there will be all kinds of security checks and what not just to get one for a deep space mission but it will be worth it!
 
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zenmaster43

Guest
More solar cells, batteries and/or capacitors can solve the 14-day lunar nights. I'm not saying I reject nuclear power, which has it's uses. I just want to keep this discussion fair.

Most fissionable materials with useful half-lives will be around far into the future, and mankind's current disunity doesn't give me much confidence in future proliferation of fissionable materials into unsecured environments. On the other hand, sending fissionable materials to the moon would undercut diplomatic efforts to prevent today's earth-bound nuclear proliferation.

Really, the nuclear option should only be used where no other option is feasible or practical for the mission at hand, and where a reactor damaged by a faulty landing would not present a problem for the destination environment, the mission or for future missions, and where we can be sure it will remain secure even far into the future.

As it turns out, the most reasonable locations for lunar facilities are at the polar regions, where natural terrain may afford the best chances of survival by shielding from the solar radiation, allowing solar energy collection on ridges and possible access to water ice in the craters.

Anywhere else on the moon would require the landers and base facilities to be radiation shielded. Perhaps this could be achieved using solar powered electro-magnetic shielding, or by digging into the regolith or covering prefab facilities with it, but water supply will be the biggest issue.

Research on lunar resources is still incomplete. We've only really scratched the surface, so I wouldn't be so hasty to dismiss the moon as a source of useful materials. We're already aware of at least aluminum, silicon and oxygen components in the topsoil, and the regolith is useful for insulating against solar radiation. With these resources, you've already got some of the basic makings of solar cells, aluminum structures, glass, silicone sealants, etc., so building a presence there is much easier with solar. This is the most promising course so far to achieve lunar facility autonomous operation.

Access to fissionable material on the moon is a problem. We'd probably be digging for years before making a find. Perhaps landing a nuclear plant on the moon would only be necessary in order to process enough lunar resources to enable the settlement to produce enough of it's own initial solar power collection facilities to enable growth of the settlement.

Lumping hard radiation from fission with background and solar radiation to justify putting it in close proximity to humans on the moon is just plain stupidity. Never underestimate the risks and complications of having a nuclear power plant in close proximity to humans. Be realistic.

Every power option available, even solar, brings risks along with the benefits. If you're going to bring nuclear reactors to the moon, use them for backup and for powering missions to destinations further from the sun, where solar loses it's effectiveness.

If you must use nuclear power, make sure the reactors are as safe and shielded as possible, to protect the crew and to preserve the environment at the destination.

The moon may lack an atmosphere or magnetosphere, but that doesn't make nuclear plants any safer there than they are on earth. Considering the forces involved, the risks of launching and landing a nuclear plant of any size are too big to ignore. Just because folks aren't yet living there doesn't make it right to do things carelessly.

Some destination environments are protected by atmospheres and/or magnetospheres, so inserting a nuclear plant into those environments could result in contamination of an otherwise low-radiation environment, especially if the lander crashes. Therefore, to comply with environmental concerns, either ban this practice or at least ensure that the lander uses soft-landing techniques with enough redundancy to ensure safe landing.
 
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JonClarke

Guest
spase_rase":3d275a5j said:
2 week day/night cycle makes solar problematic (except at the poles). Nuclear power is required.
Depends what you want to do. For small initial stations away from the poles regeneratable fuel cells may well be superior, especially if used descent stage propellants can be tapped

Sad that so many people whom know so little about nuclear power have been conditioned (brain washed) by liberals to believe that nuclear power is unconditionally bad.
Untrtue - a great many "liberals" are in favour of nuclear power. But so what? How is this relevant to the question?

Facts:
1. A nuclear reactor can NOT cause a nuclear explosion.
2. Nuclear power is safe. (As long as Soviet engineers didn't design the reactor!)
3. Nuclear power is the BEST option for green house gas free energy production. All other options can only deliver only a fraction of the power and at many times the cost.
4. Those who fight against nuclear power are responsible for MILLIONS of TONS of unnecessary green house gas production every year.
Maybe, but completely irrelevant to the issue.

Jon
 
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JonClarke

Guest
krash":39xj71l2 said:
The nuclear reactors on Naval aircraft carriers are capable of sustaining a city of 250,000 people for 25 years. Seems like a no brainer to harness that technology.
How long before there are quarter of a million people on the Moon? We aren't talking about lunar cities here, just small outposts. A carriers reactors and associated systems mass thousands of tonnes. When do we expect to be shipping those sort of masses to the Moon? And 90% of a reactor's power output is waste heat. Not a problem for a carrier, which has the whole ocean to cool it with. Difficult on the Moon though.

Since everyone has been brainwashed to death over how bad nuclear energy is, it will never happen. But nuclear reactors are the cleanest, most effective way to generate power.
Since you haven't been "brainwashed" clearly not "everyone" has been. Besides, most effective for what purpose? Cleanest compared to what?

Hopefully nobody is going to say that having hundreds of thousands of acres of windmills and solar panels is cleaner...That is such a stupid argument...
Completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Jon
 
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TATWORTH

Guest
The key place that we need to get to on the moon (the craters at the lunar south pole) receive no sunlight so nuclear is the only option. If those craters contain the quantities of water that Clementine detected, the economics of space travel will change for the better as the orbital fuel stations can then be supplied from the moon.
 
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richhaddon

Guest
I think you should solar most of the time and use nuclear fission as back up ( NASA should research fusion more because it is cleaner)
 
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Jawamaster

Guest
Are solar and nuclear power mutually exclusive? Of course not. I'm sure that, in time, both will have their place in future lunar colonies, and, as stated above, both have their pros and cons. Certainly, nuclear power would most suit the power needs of a nascent (or well-established) settlement, but solar, depending on your location, would also be a fine option, possibly as a supplemental source. We should use what works, taking necessary reasonable precautions, and experiment with others sources. Perhaps our long-term presence on the moon will spur the development of new technologies, some perhaps unique to the moon. Who knows? We need to get there first though.
 
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77777777

Guest
Solar Cells would be a Wiser Choice.

Nuclear waste with Cancer Problem, Etc. would be a Long Term Problem.

Without MRI two over the Moon Base would be a hugh Problem.

Ask Ryan P. Starkey at CU.

Have a great day.
 
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vgorelik

Guest
rogrushton":9bjnv3dd said:
I am not a tree hugger by any stretch but we already have the technology to put solar on the ISS so why not use the same thing on the moon.You scruntch them down into the canisters like the ISS and shoot them to the moon on Aries and you unroll them as big as you want. Plus you have to store the radioactive waste somewhere and transport it and handle it and if there is a spill the whole moon is just a rock and not viable for any resources at all. And if or when we leave the moon you take the same solar cells with you. I for one would not want to be the astro or cosmonaut that has to handle that stuff in 1/6th g.
There is now flowing water, no wind or any other regolith erosion mechanisms present. Even IF there is a leak in the reactor - it will stay localized for much-much longer than the half-life of most fission byproducts.

I don't think we have future in space without nuclear
 
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adbasmith

Guest
Immature use of nuclear tech...vaporizing hundreds of thousands at once. Mature use of nuclear tech...providing power to homes industries and research.

Nuclear accidents on the moon? The only way you would notice is when the lights went out, the moon is a harsh environment. Bury the reactor? Why? Sleeping on a subs reactor exposes a person to less radiation over 8 hours then a half hour walk through the Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs) at night. An exposed nuclear pile on the moon might not be a good way to produce power, but a source of contamination its not. Could you spot a firefly in central park from the ISS?

Oh the ISS...preschool for space civilization. The moon...first grade. Lagrange Points...second grade. Mars...fifth grade. Beyond mars we are allowed to walk to school alone at last. Oort cloud is the senior year of high school. Wanna go to college? Ya got'a get through grade school. Want to learn faster? Go to a private school, the price performance ratio is higher. Want to study by candle light? Go solar. If you want to pull an all nighter you need lights and a coffee maker, read nuclear power.

Want to skip grades? I can tell you for sure that skipping developmental stages is counter productive to producing a well adjusted adult.

adba
 
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SpaceOptimist

Guest
HiGh_GuY":2d1edoku said:
a Moon base should be NON-EXISTANT !!! Now weather or not a mars base should be nuclear, solar, solar-hydrogen powered is a question worth asking.
Wrong! We should focus on infrastructure for continuous presence in space. A one shot trip to Mars does little to promote permanent presence.
 
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SpaceOptimist

Guest
zenmaster43":3c5awcdq said:
On the other hand, sending fissionable materials to the moon would undercut diplomatic efforts to prevent today's earth-bound nuclear proliferation.
This is a fear based argument. We need to use the correct technology for the job, and the dimplomatic efforts you bring into the argument should not impact the decision.

Really, the nuclear option should only be used where no other option is feasible or practical for the mission at hand...
It should be used if it is the best technology choice or if it leads to the development of new materials or technical solutions.


Anywhere else on the moon would require the landers and base facilities to be radiation shielded.
Clearly, any radiation concerns by other posters do not take this into account. Excellent! This give us a chance to improve technology related to radiation shielding!!

With these resources, you've already got some of the basic makings of solar cells, aluminum structures, glass, silicone sealants, etc., so building a presence there is much easier with solar. This is the most promising course so far to achieve lunar facility autonomous operation.
Agreed. We should focus on developing manufacturing on the moon from available resources. What does this have to do with the baseline power system?

Access to fissionable material on the moon is a problem.
You just mentioned that we have not completed enough research on lunar resources, so I do not understand why you are convinced that access to fissionable material is a problem. Also, this seems like a great opportunity to develop an automated system for gathering this resource.

Lumping hard radiation from fission with background and solar radiation to justify putting it in close proximity to humans on the moon is just plain stupidity. Never underestimate the risks and complications of having a nuclear power plant in close proximity to humans. Be realistic.
I agree that the orignial poster was cavilier about mixing these cases, but you just left out a bunch of assumptions you are making. What does close proximity mean? If the power plant exists in a structure one mile away, then it may be reasonable to assume no more danger than background radiation.

Therefore, to comply with environmental concerns, either ban this practice or at least ensure that the lander uses soft-landing techniques with enough redundancy to ensure safe landing.
I agree. Who said it would not have safety measures included?
 
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Tus1985

Guest
Don't know if this has been mentioned yet, but solar cells are problematic for other reasons other than the day/night cycle of the moon. Recall that the dust on the surface of the moon is charged, and as a result could end up covering the panels and reducing effiency.
 
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Booban

Guest
Isn't nuclear power over kill?

I am thinking reactors on air craft carriers and submarines. It seems like an awful lot of power for a research station on the moon. And what is the maintenance level of these reactors? I imagine huge consoles like Homer Simpson's job.

I am thinking this should be a mini reactor. For a moon base that is similar in size to the space station. Where is the technology for this easy to use mini reactor?

Ok, the nights are long on the moon, but the solution is simple, just more rechargeable batteries.

And charged moon dust? Isn't it just a matter of charging the solar panels repulsively?
 
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frodo1008

Guest
OK, people, reality check time!

Nobody, but nobody, is going to allow NASA to launch a power reactor on any launch vehicle large enough to power even a small moon base!

Look at all the hullabaloo that is generated by NASA just launching some very small yield RTG's for its deep space probes!

I say this now, and I am not one of those that would be against such a thing at all, but politically it would be impossible, and it IS politics that controls NASA's budget, like it or not (and I don't like it, but I am a realist)!

There may even be a future time when this will not hold true, but for now, forget it!

That leaves only two choices here:

One, the individual components of such a space based system might just stand a chance of being launched, as long as there was absolutely NO chance of any radiation even being released whatever. Even if a rocket was to have a catastrophic and explosive failure!

The only fly in the ointment there would be that NASA is going to have to have some VERY highly trained astronauts. Astronauts that not only have all the training of astronauts, but would also be fully trained in assembling and starting up a nuclear power station either on the moon or in space from just the components of such a station! And such training might just be possible, but very expensive!

So, in the beginning (and for quite some time) the only viable alternative is going to be solar power generated either at the poles of the moon or in space in orbit around the moon, and then beamed down to the moon. Which would also have the advantage of being a small trial of possibly far larger systems for generating such power for the Earth itself! And the deep craters are indeed in deep shadow, but at the same time those very craters are raised up on the edges of the craters well into the sun for 24/7, at least at the poles.

So solar power IS the most viable choice. At least for those areas that NASA is now most interested in initially going to in the first place! And all of this reality is why I selected choice number two, at least for the near future anyway.

That IS the reality!
 
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Ruri

Guest
I have given this considerable thought and I'm familiar with the technologies involved.
Even though it would be possible to get by with solar nuclear is the safer and cheaper option for power.
The problem is the moon's 14 day long nights this means the battery bank would be at least 20x larger then ISS's.
They also would require periodic replacement which would be no small logical matter.
Another issue is they need to be kept warm or they will not work and may even suffer failures if the electrolyte freezes and this takes power.
Batteries esp LiPO the only technology that can pull it off pretty much like the same temperatures people do.
A reactor would put the base in a power rich state which means it'll have excess electrical power it also produces heat which will be very important during the lunar night.

In space electrical power = safety you are going to be a lot better off with 60KW average power then you would be with 10KW.
 
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HiGh_GuY

Guest
richhaddon":4h0xbc5g said:
I think you should solar most of the time and use nuclear fission as back up ( NASA should research fusion more because it is cleaner)
WHY??? Yes, it would be great if we could master fusion power but that's not a job for NASA. There are other organizations researching that and that's the way it should be. fusion is not with in the realm of space...exploration or otherwise...sure it could most deffinately be used in space once devoloped, but so could alot of things.

SpaceOptimist":4h0xbc5g said:
HiGh_GuY":4h0xbc5g said:
a Moon base should be NON-EXISTANT !!! Now weather or not a mars base should be nuclear, solar, solar-hydrogen powered is a question worth asking.
Wrong! We should focus on infrastructure for continuous presence in space. A one shot trip to Mars does little to promote permanent presence.
yes...you're WRONG!!!! Did i say anything about a one shot trip to mars?? NO. We do need to develope infrastructure and have a permenant human presence on another celestial body, not just in space...we already have that, its called the ISS. And the presence should be on MARS not the moon.

What is the point of a permanent human presence on the moon besides tourism? to mine materials at a much greater cost than it costs on earth that we aren't even out of yet? pointless.

To be able to launch cheaper because of lower gravity/no atmosphere? when you factor in the cost and time of establishing infrastructure, builidng basically a small city, with dozens of factories needed to process the mined ore into useable materials....would be MUCH cheaper to just launch from earth. We could develop that laser propulsion WAYYYYYYYY faster and cheaper than getting set up to launch from the moon.

let the international community and private industry take on the moon. Americans need to go to MARS. MARS has more science to do, more resources available, and will be a much better 2nd home, especially once it's terraformed (but even as-is, its much better) Colonizing a planet will create a huge economy, and who ever is there first and has the biggest presence will control most if not all of that economy.

Give me one reason you think is valid why the moon is a better choice than mars and i'll tell you why the that reason isn't valid. A moon mission being safer/quicker than a MARS mission isn't a valid reason either. Doing something harder will teach us more and we will bennefit from it more.
 
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Rado

Guest
bushwhacker":10rndr38 said:
elroy_jetson":10rndr38 said:
For initial setup of our first lunar outpost and testing of Mars bound technology, yes, a nuclear plant would be acceptable. As a long term power source - no. Solar farms encircling the lunar globe and an underground electrical grid could provide more than enough electricity for all of our needs.
elroy theres one thing your missing here. the total surface of the moon pretty much equals the total land surface of the earth burying that much cable would be almost impossible.
Hmmm, in fact total surface of moon is not that big. Surface of moon i a bit bigger than surface of Africa.
 
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SpaceXFanMobius57

Guest
Moon Operations First. It makes more sense to establish a lasting presence on the Moon. The Moon is alot closer and more feasable to esablish a base at this time. In the future we will develop technologies and procedures to allow for feasable Moon mining. Materials that are rare at the surface of the earth are abundant at the surface of the Moon. This is so becuase most of the heavier materials have sunk to the core and such becasue of tectonic activity which is absent on the moon. The private corperations will take over on the moon establishing Mining Colonies and tourist places and such. Our technology will continue to advance and make things easier and cheaper to do. The Moon is a good place.

Though we should get to mars too ^^
 
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Booban

Guest
Going to the Moon first will waste a lot of effort and money into moon specific knowledge, it will not teach us how to build a mars ship or mars base.

With all the money locked up in a moon base, just where will the money come from to invest in Mars?

Do you think that at the end people will say, 'oh look at all these riches the moon has brought us, lets pay even more and go to Mars and get more'?. NO, they will say we spent all this money and all we got are the same worthless moon rocks Armstrong brought back the first time.

It should be the opposite, go to Mars first, then the moon will be easy.

Just like NASA cannot afford both the space shuttle and constellation program, NASA's budget will not fund a space station, a moon base and a mars base. Choose ONE.

Just what are these materials that are so abundant on the moon that it is worth mining as compared to mining it on earth?
 
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SpaceXFanMobius57

Guest
I would choose a Moon base. But seriously, we cannot predict the socioeconomic conditions of the future, especially 30 years down the line. Most likely Private orgs taking over activites at the moon and Nasa pressing on to Mars. I would not recommend a permanet manned Mars base with our current tech at this time though. Mabe a short visit.
 
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eternalsky

Guest
Just what are these materials that are so abundant on the moon that it is worth mining as compared to mining it on earth?
PGM's or Platinum Group metals, the most needed material for fuel cell development, and its a luxury item.

Nuclear Power is the best option, but its best to use it in conjunction with solar power. Solar power is week though so on a spaceship Nuclear power is the best way to power the huge amount of technology stuffed in such a small surface area.
 
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JonClarke

Guest
eternalsky":235bhyib said:
Just what are these materials that are so abundant on the moon that it is worth mining as compared to mining it on earth?
PGM's or Platinum Group metals, the most needed material for fuel cell development, and its a luxury item.
Where on the Moon would you look for PGEs? What are the tonnes and grade? How would your process it? Why would it be cheaper than spending the same of money on Earth to extract PGEs here from any one of a dozen large layered intrusions?

Jon
 
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neutrino78x

Guest
I have no problem with using nuclear power in principle! Clearly, beyond the orbit of Mars, solar power is ineffectual for manned bases/colonies. And if we want to get around in space in more reasonable time frames, it is better to have a good source of electrical energy to power ion drives, plasma drives, etc. That source would not be solar.

However, on the surface of the Moon, nuclear power is an unnecessary danger. You are introducing the dangers of radiation (that is to say, an additional source of radiation beyond what is already there), meltdown, etc., when there is a cheap and plentiful source of energy already there.

During the 14 days of sun, you would have an excess of power, and you would store that, to be used during the 14 days of night. Very simple. As has been said by others, there are in fact various places where the sun is always visible, so storing power for 14 days of night would not even be needed in those places. Presumably you would have multiple redundant methods of storing power, such as batteries, fuel cells, ultracapacitors, flywheels, etc.

You guys are acting like there is a shortage of sunlight on the Moon, or that no method has been invented to store electric energy. I am quite disappointed by the 80% vote here.

If we were talking about a base on one of the moons of Saturn or Jupiter, I would certainly agree that nuclear fission is the right answer. But here we are talking about the Moon.

--Brian (served as a sonar tech (STS3(SS)) on the nuclear submarines USS Florida (SSBN-728) and USS Asheville (SSN-758) and is NOT an anti-nuclear zealot...but that doesn't mean nuclear is always the answer either!!!)
 
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