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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.
V. S. Chan, R. D. Stambaugh, A. M. Garofalo, M. S. Chu, R. K. Fisher, C. M. Greenfield, D. A. Humphreys, L. L. Lao, J. A. Leuer, T. W. Petrie, R. Prater, G. M. Staebler, P. B. Snyder, H. E. St. John, A. D. Turnbull, C. P. C. Wong, M. A. Van Zeeland
Fusion Science and Technology | Volume 57 | Number 1 | January 2010 | Pages 66-93
Technical Paper | dx.doi.org/10.13182/FST10-A9269
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
The objective of the Fusion Development Facility (FDF) under consideration is to carry forward advanced tokamak physics for optimization of fusion reactors and enable development of fusion's energy applications. A concept of FDF based on the tokamak approach with conservative expressions of advanced physics and nonsuperconducting magnet technology is presented. It is envisioned to nominally provide 2 MW/m2 of neutron wall loading and operate continuously for up to 2 weeks as required for fusion nuclear component research and development. FDF will have tritium breeding capability with a goal of addressing the tritium self-sufficiency issue for fusion energy. A zero-dimensional system study using extrapolations of current physics and technology is used to optimize FDF for reasonable power consumption and moderate size. It projects a device that is between the DIII-D tokamak (major radius 1.8 m) [J. L. Luxon, Nucl. Fusion, Vol. 42, p. 614 (2002)] and the Joint European Torus (major radius 3 m) [P. H. Rebut, R. J. Bickerton, and B. E. Keen, Nucl. Fusion, Vol. 25, p. 1011 (1985)] in size, with an aspect ratio A of 3.5 and a fusion gain Q of 2 to 5. Theory-based stability and transport modeling is used to complement the system study and to address physics issues related to specific design points. It is demonstrated that the FDF magnetohydrodynamic stability limits can be readily met with conservative stabilizing conducting wall placement. Transport analysis using a drift-wave-based model with an edge boundary condition consistent with the pedestal stability limit indicates that the FDF confinement requirement can also be readily satisfied. A surprising finding is that the toroidal Alfvén eigenmodes are stabilized by strong ion Landau damping. Analysis of vertical stability control indicates that the basis configuration with an elongation x [approximately] 2.35 can be controlled using a power supply technology similar to that used in DIII-D. Peak heat fluxes to the divertor are somewhat lower than those of ITER [R. Aymar, P. Barabaschi, and Y. Shimomura, Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion, Vol. 44, p. 519 (2002)], but FDF will operate with a higher duty factor.