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A team of researchers, including engineers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, this week reported their successful demonstration of a new concept that could provide reliable nuclear power for space exploration. The technology is still years away from the warp drive of Star Trek , but it could provide a means of propulsion for space travel beyond the moon. The research team demonstrated the first use of a heat pipe to cool a small nuclear reactor and power a Stirling engine at the Nevada National Security Site's Device Assembly Facility.
Well Nuclear could power rockets using electrical systems that emit Ions which would be a more powerful Ion drive system with much more thrust than current Ion drive systems. The problem would be largely how to shield the rest of the ship from radiation from space and from the power supply and a need for a very large startship that can sustain its life support using its own home grown food system that can also generate home grown atmosphere from the plants providing food. An Eco system wherby waist is somehow recycled into soil and a system of creating usable water to preserve the whole eco system is the larger of the issues. How to you tell the people who are travelling that the system will recycle thier shower water and toilet water to be used as drinking water again. Not a popular thought but one that can currently be done and is being done on many newer Cruise Ships. You would basically need a space city built with many automated robotic processes related to it. Developement of many technologies needs to be pursued including ROBOTS or androids that can perform cleaning and tasks without consuming the food needed to sustain the scientists, doctors and astronauts on board. An advanced medical setup to preserve life onboard. All this is an additional power drain that needs to be considered as well in the production of Nuclear power for operate the ship. Then redundancies.. What do you do in the case of an accident or meltdown... Eject the Core of course. Now what?? you need a secondary system you can bring online in short order that is as efficient as the first. Solar at times can help but in deep space woudl be useless, What about collection system that can collect the abundant hydrogen and gasses in the dead of space and convert that to energy an a propulsion system. A ship would need to be developed with redundancy, several propulsion solutions that are not relied on each other so that a disaster can be averted and damages can be repared. Nano tech batteries that use nanotubes to store massive amounts of energy logn term. I future variant of the LifePo4 battery than will not explode or catch fire or overload. All systems would need redundancy so many technologie options need to be developed and put into service. The reality of this type of space travel is billions or trillions in research dollars and many years from materialization. Due to the lack of a centralized motivation and funding this may never happen. It will take unfortunately a close call where humanity realizes all our eggs are in this one basket before governments stop bickering and warring and start putting thier rescources into something truely constructive like galactic expansion and learning to live in environments withouth negatively affecting them. Imagine the possibilities if we achieved this and the knowledge we would attain of how the universe truely works... The worlds we could see and discover and the beauty we could envision in these truely spectacular sites. Ability to get rescources from asteroids or other planets would be needed as the materials to build such large ships would be emmense and would obiously affect the mass of earth as we built more million tonne ships to send out to space. Advanced in Metals and materials that are resilient and strong. Advances in powered shielding that can inherintly deflect or redirect particles in space away from or around the hull of the ship as at high speeds a small partical of dust traveling very fast could destroy the ship. Ability to control gravity on board and prevent inertia as well so that people on board do not get jarred around by sudden course corrections. Possibly use gravity as a propellant with the masses of the celestial bodies acting on the ship. The need for defenses against the unknown. Spend all these trillions just to be blown to smithers by an alien that doesnt want mankind in outer space. Great speed will be needed to cross great distances even to our closes neighboring Solar system in Aphla Centari. Too many variables in this that need to be advanced significantly and mankind is too preoccupied with personal greeds and pettiness in ideology instead of acceptance that not all people believe or feel the same thing. I would be happy to see mankind achieve something so great. But it is unlikely to happen.
What a bizarre article. It describes a new or alternative way to generate electricity in space. So? How does that Blast Humans into Deep Space? How do you translate all the electricity generated by DUFF into propulsion? You don't give even a hint of how all this electricity will make a manned spacecraft accelerate into "deep space." And what is this Blasting"? DUFF doesn't seem to involve blasting.
Science writing is so pathetic these days. Amateur science writing, that is.
At the conclusion of a very captivating article the writer chooses to take a defensive stance against potential nuclear technology protestors. He presumes that the non-nuclear advanced citizen, ignorant and living unrealistically in a media pumped environment should, for our own good take the risk (biting the multi-billion dollar financial bullet) so the scientific community can save us from an unknown, but scary as hell attack from outer space. And if we don't, the writer implies that we may be responsible for our own "self-inflicted ignorance."
"Without the risk, there will be no reward." What reward, pray tell? The cash goes from our pockets to your pockets with no insurance that it might be misspent. Perhaps the writer is a might ignorant that we are living in the nuclear age, a might suicidal since 1945. Only a few nuclear meltdowns have happened since then, the most recent being Fukushima. No sweat, its them, not us. My Masters degree is in science, so we're brothers in the quest for unlimited knowledge. The only difference between thee and me is that thee is willing to take the risk of irradiating me and the human race to reach your goal, while I refrain from such ignorant, barbaric behavior.