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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.
Henrik Sjöstrand, E. Andersson Sundén, L. Bertalot, S. Conroy, G. Ericsson, M. Gatu Johnson, L. Giacomelli, G. Gorini, C. Hellesen, A. Hjalmarsson, J. Källne, S. Popovichev, E. Ronchi, M. Weiszflog, M. Tardocchi, JET EFDA Contributors
Fusion Science and Technology | Volume 57 | Number 2 | February 2010 | Pages 162-175
Technical Paper | dx.doi.org/10.13182/FST10-A9370
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
Fusion power production is the ultimate goal of fusion research, and its determination is crucial in any fusion energy application. In this paper the principles of collimated neutron flux measurements for fusion plasma power determination are described. In this method, a high-resolution neutron spectrometer provides an absolutely calibrated neutron flux, and a neutron profile monitor ("camera") gives information on the neutron emission profile of the plasma. The total neutron flux seen by the spectrometer is discussed in terms of direct and scattered flux, and a model is set up to evaluate the magnitude of these different components. Particular care is taken to estimate the uncertainties involved, both in the model and the measurements. The method is put to practical use at JET, where a magnetic proton recoil spectrometer and a neutron profile monitor are available. Results from JET's trace tritium experimental campaign in 2003 are presented and show that the systematic uncertainties in fusion power measurements are reduced in comparison to what has been presented for foil activation systems. A systematic error of 6% is reported here. For ITER these results imply that the fusion power can be redundantly measured and with better accuracies than for traditional methods.