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NASA Chief talks about Project Prometheus


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#1 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 06 February 2003 - 07:30 PM

Moderator's note: several posts were misplaced to the beginning of the thread during the server move. Their text has been added to the ends of the preceding messages.

Edited by Christopher, 04 March 2003 - 08:05 PM.

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#2 Shaun

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 10:42 PM

Very interesting stuff!

http://www.space.com...ines....24.html

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#3 QuiGon John

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 10:54 PM

I'm thinking this belongs in Science and Technology.  Have fun there! :)

#4 Christopher

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 09:10 AM

These are promising and overdue developments.  I just hope the public's irrational fears about nuclear power don't scuttle the nuclear-propulsion project.
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#5 the 'Hawk

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Posted 05 February 2003 - 02:00 PM

It's scary to imagine a space plane meeting the Columbia's fate now, knowing nuclear material would be on board.

At least to me, it's scary to.

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#6 MuseZack

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Posted 05 February 2003 - 02:35 PM

Actually, after Three Mile Island, Sellafield, and Chernobyl, I think the public's fears about nuclear power are eminently rational.  However, in the name of opening the rest of the solar system to manned exploration it's IMHO a worthwhile risk.

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#7 Christopher

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Posted 05 February 2003 - 04:02 PM

MuseZack, on Feb. 05 2003,14:35, said:

Actually, after Three Mile Island, Sellafield, and Chernobyl, I think the public's fears about nuclear power are eminently rational.
Exactly -- there have been so few accidents that we know them all by name.  And as far as I know, only Chernobyl had any casualties.  Meanwhile hundreds of nuclear power plants have been operating quite safely and cleanly for decades.  And meanwhile coal-burning plants are spewing trace amounts of radioactive materials into the air during every single second of their operation.
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#8 Delvo

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Posted 06 February 2003 - 10:09 AM

And THAT's with much older, riskier technology that a spacecraft wouldn't be using. A space engine and a power plant are very different even if you can put the same label on them both. (And, if current vehicles are any indication, it wouldn't carry more fuel than it needs, so re-entry would be done with no fuel on board.)

#9 DWF

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Posted 06 February 2003 - 06:55 PM

Christopher, on Feb. 05 2003,23:02, said:

MuseZack, on Feb. 05 2003,14:35, said:

Actually, after Three Mile Island, Sellafield, and Chernobyl, I think the public's fears about nuclear power are eminently rational.
Exactly -- there have been so few accidents that we know them all by name.  And as far as I know, only Chernobyl had any casualties.  Meanwhile hundreds of nuclear power plants have been operating quite safely and cleanly for decades.  And meanwhile coal-burning plants are spewing trace amounts of radioactive materials into the air during every single second of their operation.
While the operation of nuclear plants, is much safer now, we're rapidly running out of space to store their waste. And while the plants are much safer, nuclear weapons plants, are still having alot problems.
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#10 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 06 February 2003 - 07:01 PM

Hawk, on Feb. 05 2003,19:00, said:

It's scary to imagine a space plane meeting the Columbia's fate now, knowing nuclear material would be on board.
Well I think NASA would make sure that nuclear material was stored away inside a container sufficently strong to survive an accident.   If you go through the proper procedures the risk should be minimal.


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the 'Hawk
Posted: Feb 6 2003, 11:24 AM
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Quote

Quote

(CJ AEGIS @ Feb. 06 2003,19:01)
If you go through the proper procedures the risk should be minimal.

That's what they always say.... ;)

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CJ AEGIS
Posted: Feb 6 2003, 11:27 AM

Quote

Quote

(Hawk @ Feb. 07 2003,00:27)
That's what they always say.... ;)

Tupperware is made for the microwave.....  :devil:

Edited by Christopher, 04 March 2003 - 08:04 PM.

"History has proven too often and too recently that the nation which relaxes its defenses invites attack."
        -Fleet Admiral Nimitz
"Their sailors say they should have flight pay and sub pay both -- they're in the air half the time, under the water the other half""
        - Ernie Pyle: Aboard a DE

#11 Corwin

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 02:43 AM

I do not believe NASA is talking at this time of putting a nuclear powered orbital space plane on the drawing board.  From everything I've read, the Prometheus Project will be used for interplanetary or near-earth-orbit travel, not for obital re-entry vehicles.  My knowledge is nuclear reactors is very limited, but it seems the size of even the smallest reactors we have (nuclear submaries?) are still way larger than would be feasible for any kind of re-entry orbiter.  
Although we do have at least one satellite using nuclear energy for it's onboard power systems, it seems like that is much different from any spacecraft having a nuclear powered propulsion system.


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#12 Norville

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 03:37 AM

Forgive me for being completely sarcastic, but I find that I can't prevent it re: this topic... :lol:

For those people who fear the idea of nuclear radiation in space, well, there's this big ol' nuclear furnace of radiation out there, close to Earth -- it's called the Sun. And that's what I always want to tell the Berkeley radicals who go on about how the space program should be ended for the safety of life on Earth. :blink:

More seriously, though -- of course it's unsettling, but nuclear energy can be used safely. The US hasn't yet had a nuclear submarine accident to the extent that one Soviet sub did, where some crew had to walk into the reactor to shut it down and it killed them. One would *hope* that NASA could also handle the technology safely -- maybe, first, they'd better learn to avoid launching in freezing weather that holds the risk of ice damage.

Quote

it seems the size of even the smallest reactors we have (nuclear submaries?) are still way larger than would be feasible for any kind of re-entry orbiter.

I think you're right. Hmm... maybe learn to launch a nuclear sub into orbit? :lol:
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#13 MuseZack

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 03:54 AM

^^^

Wasn't that essentially the idea with Orion?  Launch a humongous ship with what were essentially the innards from a nuclear sub into space on top of a column of micro-atomic blasts?  That was why they were saying that the pusher plate mechanics were the only real technological innovations needed?  With weight and power no longer considerations, the other aspects of interplanetary space travel were feasible in 1960.

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We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
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--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

#14 Anakam

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 04:12 AM

This is incredibly off topic, but.... ;)

Norville, is your avatar Columbia's first landing?
Sailing free, boundless glimmer, golden whispers, fiery poise, delicate balance, grave and true, bound by earth, feared horizons, courageous steps unknown, shimmering future hidden yet unveiled....

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#15 Banapis

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 04:38 AM

^ I'm not Norville, but I can answer that question in the negative.  The photo can't be of Columbia's first landing in 1981 because it features Columbia with the SILTS (Shuttle Infrared Leeside Temperature
Sensing) pod on its vertical stabilizer.  Columbia first flew with the SILTS pod on STS-61C in January 1986.

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#16 Anakam

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 04:57 AM

Banapis, on Feb 19 2003, 01:40 AM, said:

^ I'm not Norville, but I can answer that question in the negative.  The photo can't be of Columbia's first landing in 1981 because it features Columbia with the SILTS (Shuttle Infrared Leeside Temperature
Sensing) pod on its vertical stabilizer.  Columbia first flew with the SILTS pod on STS-61C in January 1986.

Banapis
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Wow... okay, thanks. :)  I hesitate to derail this topic further, but how can you tell?  :huh:
Sailing free, boundless glimmer, golden whispers, fiery poise, delicate balance, grave and true, bound by earth, feared horizons, courageous steps unknown, shimmering future hidden yet unveiled....

I think you're the first female cast member to *insist* on playing a guy ;) - Iolanthe, on my cross-casting obsession.

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle, this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, this other Eden, demi-paradise, this fortress built by Nature for herself... - John of Gaunt, Act II, Scene I, Richard II

"I think perhaps that was a sub-optimal phrasing for the maintenance of harmony within the collective." - Omega, here

"Courtesy is how we got civilized. The blind assertion of rights is what threatens to decivilize us. Everybody's got lots of rights that are set out legally. Responsibilities are not enumerated, for good reason, but they are set into the social fabric. Is it such a sacrifice to not be an a**hole?" - Jenny Smith on Usenet, via Jid, via Kathy

#17 Banapis

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 05:17 AM

^  If you right click and save Norville's avatar to your desktop you'll be able to see the pod much more clearly (the actual file size is 300x240).  You'll see a long cylinder directly atop Columbia's vertical stabilizer - that's the SILTS pod.  :D

Also, Columbia landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California at the conclusion of STS-1, while Norville's avatar shows Columbia during a landing at KSC in Florida.

Pictures of Columbia landing after STS-1 can be found here:

http://images.jsc.na...ml/pao/STS1.htm

Hope this helps!

Banapis

#18 Anakam

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 05:23 AM

Oh, d'oh... the green grass as opposed to the desert terrain should have tipped me off.  :blush:

Thanks, though.... I'm getting caught up on shuttle history and had entirely forgotten about the SILTS pod.  (Partly because prior to the past couple of weeks I hadn't read anything extensive about the space shuttle program in about ten years. :p )  I have been browsing different missions at that site as well as the spaceflight.nasa.gov one.... wow! :D :)
Sailing free, boundless glimmer, golden whispers, fiery poise, delicate balance, grave and true, bound by earth, feared horizons, courageous steps unknown, shimmering future hidden yet unveiled....

I think you're the first female cast member to *insist* on playing a guy ;) - Iolanthe, on my cross-casting obsession.

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle, this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, this other Eden, demi-paradise, this fortress built by Nature for herself... - John of Gaunt, Act II, Scene I, Richard II

"I think perhaps that was a sub-optimal phrasing for the maintenance of harmony within the collective." - Omega, here

"Courtesy is how we got civilized. The blind assertion of rights is what threatens to decivilize us. Everybody's got lots of rights that are set out legally. Responsibilities are not enumerated, for good reason, but they are set into the social fabric. Is it such a sacrifice to not be an a**hole?" - Jenny Smith on Usenet, via Jid, via Kathy

#19 Corwin

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 06:39 AM

MuseZack, on Feb 18 2003, 06:56 PM, said:

Wasn't that essentially the idea with Orion?  Launch a humongous ship with what were essentially the innards from a nuclear sub into space on top of a column of micro-atomic blasts? 
Zack
Yes, although I'm no expert on Orion, I think it started in about '58 or so...  I didn't know anything about  having the innards from a nuclear sub put into space...  but as far as using what are essentially mini-atomic bombs for propulsion... yeah.

I've put some amount of thought into refitting something like a Typhoon or Ohio class submarine for space use.. the question is.. how do you get the darned thing into orbit....  It would definitely have to be assembled there, but that still leaves some VERY large pieces to send up.

On a side note, I've also put quite a bit of thought into early spacecraft combat... all using only slight modifications of current weaponry...

--Corwin
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#20 tennyson

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 07:15 AM

Actually  thier is a basic confusion here about nuclear systems used to provide power and nuclear systems to provide thrust. It is a very distinxtive difference. Nuclear power reacors(and thier cousins the radioisotope thermal generators) have been providing electrical power for spacecraft since the 1960s in such projects as the Russian Rosat ocean recon satellites and certain members of the Cosmos series of surviellance satellites and the American Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo and Cassini space probes among others. In those cases very small, compact nuclear power plants were developed that on the Russian side include a 100 KW power reactor the sze of a voltswagon and RTGs that wiegh maybe a couple of hundred pounds a piece.
These systems are vastly different from the systems designed to provide direct thrust. The first real work on them was project NERVA, which was a solid core nuclear fission rocket that was tested and abandoned in the 1960s with the coming of the outer space treaty. In it, hydrogen is directed through a solid nuclear reactor structure, heated and then ejected out the back to provide thrust. It was not intended for use as a launch ehicle but as a vehicle for interplanetary travel. Now, there are substantially more advanced nuclear thrust systems including gasous core fission propulsion and using a nuclear reactor to power an ion drive for long duration missions. For example, in the late 1980s a project known has TAU(Thousand Astronomical Unit) made the rounds at NASA as an idea for a future long duration mission. In ita highly capable probe would be sent on a mission to rendevous with the outer planets and then hit the edge of the Kuiper belt using a 150kw nuclear reactor to power a Xenon fueled ion drive. The reactor just supplied the electrical power needed to ionize the Xenon.  
As far as I'm aware their was no direct nuclear submarine connection to Project Orion. The actual work was finished by 1963, after they'd proved the concept with a scale model using conventional explosives to provide thrust. But Orion is at best, inefficient, wasteful and in my opinion, not really needed if the money was ever put into a gasous core fission drive that doesn't need weapons grade uranium or plutonium to work.
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