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Fusion Science and Technology
Trump leaves space nuclear policy executive order for Biden team
A hot fire test of the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi was not completed as planned. The SLS is the vehicle meant to propel a crewed mission to the moon in 2024. Source: NASA Television
Among the executive orders President Trump issued during his last weeks in office was “Promoting Small Modular Reactors for National Defense and Space Exploration,” which builds on the Space Policy Directives published during his term. The order, issued on January 12, calls for actions within the next six months by NASA and the Department of Defense (DOD), together with the Department of Energy and other federal entities. Whether the Biden administration will retain some, all, or none of the specific goals of the Trump administration’s space nuclear policy remains to be seen, but one thing is very clear: If deep space exploration remains a priority, nuclear-powered and -propelled spacecraft will be needed.
The prospects for near-term deployment of nuclear propulsion and power systems in space improved during Trump’s presidency. However, Trump left office days after a hot fire test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket did not go as planned. The SLS rocket is meant to propel crewed missions to the moon in 2024 and to enable a series of long-duration lunar missions that could be powered by small lunar reactor installations. The test on January 16 of four engines that were supposed to fire for over eight minutes was automatically aborted after one minute, casting some doubt that a planned November 2021 Artemis I mission can go ahead on schedule.
D. M. Haas, H. Huang, A. Q. L. Nguyen, K. Sequoia, R. B. Stephens, A. Nikroo, N. Antipa
Fusion Science and Technology | Volume 63 | Number 2 | March-April 2013 | Pages 160-168
Technical Paper | Selected papers from 20th Target Fabrication Meeting, May 20-24, 2012, Santa Fe, NM, Guest Editor: Robert C. Cook | dx.doi.org/10.13182/FST13-TFM20-30
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CH capsules, produced through glow discharge plasma coating, routinely suffer from surface defects including domes with gradually sloping sides and dust particles with sharp edges. Surface defects seed instabilities during implosion experiments on the National Ignition Facility and lead to radial jets, which increase mixing at the center of the implosion hindering the shell compression. Avoiding such defects requires characterizing the entire shell surface. In addition, the global position of the defects must be recorded in order to coordinate shot results with the initial surface perturbations. Further work was done to enable side-by-side comparison with optically acquired images to aid in capsule surface inspection throughout the capsule production process.