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To...nuclear or to not?

Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by Fourka, May 11, 2005.

  1. Fourka

    Fourka Forget it

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    Everyone knows about how difficult is to get to space and explore the universe. Approximately 2/3 of the missions to Mars were a failure, and even if Mars is so close to Earth, universally size speaking, it takes 6-7 months to get there. It is a fact that the common propellants are pretty inefficient for the exploration of the universe since the weight of a rocket ready to be launched consists approximately 20% structure and 80% propellant!! There are many other different kinds of propulsion that either they are way more efficient than that but they don't provide enough power to lift a rocket from the Earth, or vice versa. However, nuclear propulsion provides an extraordinary efficiency compared to the common propellants, plus a great power/thrust to keep this spacecraft travelling. It is said and allready studied (since NASA has allready constructed a nuclear rocket) that nuclear propulsion is the key to the exploration of the universe.
    But one would ask, so why are they holding back? They are holding back for two reasons: 1) for environmental issues and 2) this could enable the use of military nuclear spacecrafts...
    What are your opinions on that matter? Should they or shouldn't they?
     
  2. cthulufhtagn

    cthulufhtagn stop. just....stop.

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    I think the expense of such a project is another factor. IMO there is enough to worry about here on earth without spending astronomical (pun intended :D ) sums on space exploration.
     
  3. Fourka

    Fourka Forget it

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    I don't think NASA has an economical problem though. ESA might as well have, but NASA can afford to throw many rovers out of the window just for testing..When Beagle 2 (UK's project) was constructed, it was the original (first one to be constructed) to be sent to Mars because of economical issues. Of course, it didn't succeed.
    I will need to agree on this one though :cool:
    But I'm just curious as to which side other people are taking on this matter.
     
  4. Zack

    Zack charting my way to top :)

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    This is hard for me to say, being an astronomy enthusiast, but I agree with cthulu. The earth is in need of help. Also, NASA only worried about the money sucking ISS.
     
  5. CGBShadowchild

    CGBShadowchild New Metal Member

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    Personally, I feel it's more of a tech problem and training than anything else. Nuclear pwerplants take a team of techs specifically trained to maintain and monitor them. They're also pretty big, when it comes down to it. Now, NASA already has a lot of training to get people trained and ready to go into space, as well as the rigorous physicals to be able to withstand all the gravities on earth-exit. Having to train more people, or the current astronauts, to handle a nuclear reactor in minimal-G is quite a tall order, and is probably not as high on their worry list as, say, actually getting a new shuttle up and running. Plus, we've never actually tested nuclear power in space quite yet, so that has to be first, and to do that they need a shuttle. Even with that, they have to provide oxygen and other necessities to what would have to be a larger crew to man the nukeplant. Food doesn't weigh that much, so that's a non-issue. The big problem is oxygen and water. So, to do it, they'd need better oxygen recyclers, or to develop some sort of mold/fungus/lichen to both save space and to produce a high oxygen/mass ratio. Final concern is water. They'd need some wicked efficient water reclaiming systems, as well as purifiers and such, in order to maintain a crew in space. They'd also need a bigger gym and such so the crew doesn't get crushed when they get back to Earth. For those astronomy nuts, you've probably seen a bit of what really happens when long-term astronauts get back home. Most of them can barely walk, even with wicked physical regimens while in space. It's a huge logistics problem, and I bet they have a large crew of researchers working on it, but I don't expect to see it within the next 10 years.
     
  6. Darth Kur

    Darth Kur Misanthropic Naysayer

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    I'm all for the furtherance of space exploration. I see it not just as a fascinating intellectual pursuit but a necessity for the continuation and expansion of our species. Nuclear propulsion is the next logical step in the process. Granted there are logistical issues that must be addressed before any practical applications can by utilized. NASA is currently working on a nuclear powered probe so things are under way.
    Of coarse I would much prefer a technical quantum leap to be made and have a new and revolutionary mode of power/propulsion to be invented. Even though anything's possible I'm not holding my breath on that happening any time soon.
     
  7. CGBShadowchild

    CGBShadowchild New Metal Member

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    Personally, I think we'll figure out antimatter power and propulsion within the next 20 years, although I almost guarantee we'll figure out how to make a really really big bomb with it, which I don't like the idea of as much. Besides, the biggest labs currently researching antimatter at this time are in the deep south. Rednecks and hicks with antimatter frighten me, no matter how smart they are.
     
  8. Kenneth R.

    Kenneth R. Cináed

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    i would say after Challenger and Columbia, NASA is careful about putting anything dangerous in space for fear that people will point the finger at them and say "if that nuclear rocket explodes, we all die of leukemia".

    still, if they managed to get the thing into space by other means, i have no issue with nuclear power in space.
     
  9. Intoxicator

    Intoxicator Hell On Earth

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    I've heard of methods of "gravity bending" that would make space travel much quicker. I don't know any of the specifics on it, but such a thing seems far beyond human technology at the moment.
     

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