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Space-based nuclear reactors a boon to thriller writers
Yesterday, our current president issued a directive promoting the use of nuclear power in space — including in low Earth Orbit.
Now, I don’t know whether the plan makes any sense.
NASA put out a statement of support, but they avoided any mention of Earth orbit in their response, focusing on using nuclear to power permanent bases on the Moon and on Mars, and for exploration of other planets.
The National Space Council also focused on the deep space part of the directive and not the Earth orbit part.
“Space nuclear power and propulsion is a fundamentally enabling technology for American deep-space missions to Mars and beyond,” Scott Pace, the organization’s executive secretary, said in a statement.
Nuclear power makes great sense for far-off space installations where the nukes don’t pose much danger to the general population if things go wrong.
Sure, the space nuclear power directive does include some safety provisions.
“Spacecraft operating fission reactors in low-Earth orbits shall incorporate a highly reliable operational system to ensure effective and controlled disposition of the reactor,” it says.
I’m sure science fiction and thriller writers and disaster movie screenwriters will be able to come up with millions of ways for these “highly reliable” operational systems to go wrong.
As a fan of disaster movies, especially those starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, I only have two words left to say: