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Nuclear Science and Engineering
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.
O. Ågren, V. E. Moiseenko, K. Noack, A. Hagnestål
Fusion Science and Technology | Volume 57 | Number 4 | May 2010 | Pages 326-334
Technical Paper | dx.doi.org/10.13182/FST57-326
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
The straight field line mirror (SFLM) field with magnetic expanders beyond the confinement region is proposed as a compact device for transmutation of nuclear waste and power production. A design with reactor safety and a large fission-to-fusion energy multiplication is analyzed. Power production is predicted with a fusion Q = 0.15 and an electron temperature of [approximately]500 eV. A fusion power of 10 MW may be amplified to 1.5 GW of fission power in a compact hybrid mirror machine. In the SFLM proposal, quadrupolar coils provide stabilization of the interchange mode, radio-frequency heating is aimed to produce a hot sloshing ion plasma, and magnetic coils are computed with an emphasis on minimizing holes in the fission blanket through which fusion neutrons could escape. Neutron calculations for the fission mantle show that nearly all fusion neutrons penetrate into the fission mantle. A scenario to increase the electron temperature with a strong ambipolar potential suggests that an electron temperature exceeding 1 keV could be reached with a modest density depletion by two orders in the expander. Such a density depletion is consistent with stabilization of the drift cyclotron loss cone mode.