Storing Nuclear Waste on an Asteroid or the Moon

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Stanley1":3gosq22m said:
Why store Nuclear Waste??? Just deorbit it into the Sun, much easier than transporting to an asteroid that can be hit by another object and deflected possibly into the Earth. You could dump the entire Earth into the sun and it's wouldn't ever burp.
All you need is get it out of earth's gravity and then hang on to a solar sail towards sun. You don't need amount of energy calculated by some geeks here.


Until more reliable and cheaper means of sending payloads into space become available, we should at least make the containers or current storage areas accessible in the event we get the opportunity to send it off and not bury them under tons of rubble or dump them at sea.

Just a note: it takes more energy to head into the sun than out..our centrifugal motion around the sun cause payloads to either enter into heliocentric the earth and other planets or expel them dpendinng on the moment of lauch and escape velocity. You would need extra fuel to cancel out that inital motion before heading into the sun. Reaching jupiter may be just as easy if not eaiser and it is an already accepted practice to dump radioactive space probes into gas giants.


Sending nuclear waste in space is foolish for a number of reasons.

1. Cost (>$10,000 per kilogram to smash it into Jupiter)
2. Accidental Atmospheric Release (a dirty bomb in your neighborhood)
3. Intentional Sabotage/Terrorism (lots of waste in one soft target)
4. The waste would have to be transported across countries to launch centers, creating opportunities for spills, etc.

Especially when you consider that the long term waste products of Uranium fission can be cleanly burned into much shorter half-life by-products in a molten Thorium-salt reactor. Waste in this scenario is re-burned to generate electricity while simultaneously transmuting the waste products into isotopes with much shorter half lives.

1. Thorium reactors can be adjusted to create an absolute minimum proliferation threat.
2. They run using a sub-critical reactor; no China syndrome, minimized safety issues, etc
3. Takes existing wastes and turns them into safer waste, while simultaneously generating power/heat
4. Can be combined with desalination efforts, thus not only making power but generating another precious resource, fresh water
5. Thorium is far more abundant and far easier to process than uranium isotopes
6. Existing nuclear waste is reduced from half lives requiring secure storage for thousands of years to only about a hundred years. It would far less expensive to design facilities meant to last a century versus thousands of years.

Why in the world would anyone strap nuclear waste onto a rocket and pay hundreds of millions of dollars per launch, when they could instead use the waste constructively and safely?


Storing waste is a waste. Nuclear waste can be reprocessed.


The only sense to storing radioactive waste on the Moon or an asteroid is if it were produced there. Moving it any appreciable distance makes no sense.


This is an issue I have been interested in for a long time. The safe disposal of nuclear waste is within our grasp by developing space elevators, which will be able to safely lift containers into low earth orbit, from where they can be sent cheaply into the sun, where strong force reactions belong. The sun is the biggest gravitational source, of course, and a cheap boost from low earth orbit, even in the general direction of the sun, will get it there. The wastes should be 500 year containerized for safety, as it is likely that a century will be needed before space elevators are operating well and used routinely. Fission energy may not be all that long-term a solution, though, because the supply of enrichable uranium on earth is very limited, even if all the nuclear weapons are dismantled and used for peaceful fission plants. But, yes, it could be the main solution for reducing CO2 emissions during this century, and the safety issue can be addressed by a robust program for the development of space elevators. The idea of using the moon or an asteroid is a non-starter. Keep it simple.


Definitely the Sun. Let's think further into the future from now on and leave the short thinkers their own little world to pulling their brains out and playing with. Engine type? Ion! It wont push it fast to it's target but it is weight effective. Not only will the Ion be pushing, the Sun will be pulling. By the time it actually reaches the sun, the craft will be hauling it...


Dumb question: What does it take to destroy nuclear waste. I read above that someone suggested a fusion torch and another suggested using antimatter to destroy it. Reason I'm asking is, if nuke waste were to come back to earth, what percentage would be burnt up on reentry? Any of it?


Modify the cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the constitution so we can use really bad criminals to separate nuclear waste. The processing with robotics is still too expensive, but most of the issotopes can be separated and have uses or potental uses, such as for energy production. Neil


yep a launch failure carrying a radioactive PL--BAD! Their was a HUGE out cry (including at least 1 lawsuit) when NASA launched Cassini which carried an RTG. Maybe possible someday it will be safer-like using the 'space elevator'...
If Yucca mountain never goes online-unlikey given the requirement it has to be geologically inactive for 10,000 years. The only place maybe that meets that requirement is possibly antartica, which is a non-starter.


Our problem with nuclear waste has always been the same as what we were to do with all our other, regular waste, but on a, shall we say, somewhat different scale. Diapers and household garbage versus really nasty things... Dump it on the Moon and how do we compromise our intent to revisit or colonize? Brings to mind the old not in my backyard idea except this time the backyard is how far away and we won't worry about it until we have to??? I guess we won't have to but which generation will when they finally have to colonize the Moon because we turned Earth into a space borne garbage heap during our tenure as keepers of the planet... Dumping on an asteriod I haven't thought much about yet as I have doubts of our ability to colonize them and most really aren't in our immediate back yard just now.

Goodnight to all, Godspeed, Per Ardua Ad Astra. :roll:


At some point, we'll have better ways of producing energy and won't need fission anymore. We'll have excess energy and be able to just accelerate the radioactive decay process of the nuclear waste by bombarding it with subatomic particles and get rid of it very quickly. Half life is based on non-interference. With net energy input, half life isn't very relevant. Think about the amount of energy it will take to do some of the far-out things we want to do in the future. Energy necessary to obliterate nuclear waste will be like a drop in the bucket.

By the way, regular waste is a treasure that we should definitely keep around. We are going to be able to "mine" landfills "soon" for raw molecular constituents with net energy output and little pollution. I doubt any landfills will be around 100 years from now. Demand will outstrip supply for chemicals and they'll find out how to make mining landfills profitable.
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