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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.
Fusion Science and Technology | Volume 57 | Number 2 | February 2010 | Pages 185-195
Heating and Current Drive | Proceedings of the Ninth Carolus Magnus Summer School on Plasma and Fusion Energy Physics | dx.doi.org/10.13182/FST10-A9409
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
The heating of plasmas by fast ions, with a focus on Neutral Beam Injection (NBI), is reviewed. First, the need of auxiliary heating and current drive systems in fusion machines is outlined. For the particular case of tokamaks, the limitations of ohmic heating are discussed. The different ways of generating fast particles in plasmas are presented. The principle of operation of neutral beam injectors is explained. Positive-ion (PNBI) and negativeion (NNBI) based concepts are discussed. Next, the physical processes by which the beam transfers energy to the plasma, namely ionisation and slowing-down are described. For both, an elementary theory is given, whereby simple approximations to the distribution functions of beam injected ions and of alpha particles in reactors are obtained. Applications of NBI to heating, current drive and rotation drive are reviewed and the prospects of NBI for ITER are commented.