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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.
Alexei D. Beklemishev, Peter A. Bagryansky, Maxim S. Chaschin, Elena I. Soldatkina
Fusion Science and Technology | Volume 57 | Number 4 | May 2010 | Pages 351-360
Technical Paper | dx.doi.org/10.13182/FST10-A9497
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Interaction between shear flows and plasma instabilities in axially symmetric mirrors can lead to improved confinement, observed both in experiments on the gas dynamic trap and in simulations. Shear flows, driven via biased end plates and limiters, in combination with finite-larmor-radius effects are shown to be efficient in confining high-beta plasmas even with a magnetic hill on axis. Interpretation of observed effects such as vortex confinement, i.e., confinement of the plasma core in the dead-flow zone of the driven vortex, is shown to agree well with simulations. Theoretical scaling laws predict such a confinement scheme to be useful even in fusion plasmas.