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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.
J. B. O. Caughman, Á. Fernández, Á. Cappa, F. Castejón, J. M. Garcia-Regaña, D. A. Rasmussen, J. B. Wilgen
Fusion Science and Technology | Volume 57 | Number 1 | January 2010 | Pages 41-47
Technical Paper | dx.doi.org/10.13182/FST10-A9267
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Thermal electron emission at 28 GHz has been measured on the TJ-II stellarator. The emission from neutral beam-heated overdense plasmas, where the plasma density is greater than the ordinary-mode (O-mode) cutoff density, is consistent with electron thermal emission from mode-converted electron Bernstein waves (EBWs) via the Bernstein wave to extraordinary mode to ordinary mode scenario (B-X-O). Emission from underdense plasmas without neutral beam injection is consistent with the measurement of oblique electron cyclotron emission. Electron Bernstein wave emission measurements are being made to determine the optimum launch angle for planned EBW heating experiments and also to provide an indication of electron temperature evolution in overdense plasmas on TJ-II.