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Opinion

KG
Karl Grossman
November 16, 2017

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Nuclear power and space

Nuclear power and space

The website nuclear-news this month has declared: “Nuclear Power and Space Exploration – theme for November 17.” And, indeed, a desire of nuclear power zealots for decades is, now in 2017 with the Trump administration, poised for possible major implementation.

As nuclear-news says: “Coinciding with the severe downturn in the nuclear industry is the rush for enthusiasm for space exploration–and the goal of ‘putting a man on Mars.’” The nuclear industry must be pleased now with the focus on nuclear-powered rockets to Mars. The apparent motive? “Space travel might save their industry?” Continues nuclear-news: “The effects of a space craft crash on an Earth city are almost unimaginable, and certainly never properly condemned by the space technocrats and nuclear enthusiasts. To them, this is an ‘accceptable risk.’”

As Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space notes: “For many years the nuclear power industry held an annual conference in New Mexico to promote the use of their deadly product in space. Nuclear-powered mining colonies and nuclear-powered rockets to Mars were key themes at these events.”

Now with Trump as president and green lights to industry after industry to
do or continue to do deadly things, Trump and his band are pushing for the nuclear industry to bring its deadly product into the heavens.

“Trump’s spaceman,” was the headline in February of a Vice News piece about Trump campaign space advisor Robert Smith Walker, an arch-conservative ex-congressman who had been chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, the panel with NASA oversight. The sub-head: “President Trump has a plan for space domination.”

“Trump has appointed former Rep. Thomas Walker as a space science policy advisor, and he has an aggressive, business-type vision for NASA,” it says. “Under Trump, missions are expected to be more deep-space-oriented, beginning with robots mining for resources such as Helium 3 on the Moon. Walker foresees human lunar colonies as well as spaceships fueled by nuclear power to cut travel time to Mars from months to weeks.”

In a Vice News interview, which can be heard online, Walker speaks of mining on the Moon for Helium 3 to be used as a fuel for nuclear fusion and of the US “developing a generation of spaceships powered by nuclear power.”

Originally a high school teacher, Walker left the House in 1997 after 20 years representing a portion of Pennsylvania.

He later was named by President George W. Bush’s as chairman of the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry and also was a member of the
President’s Commission on Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy. He is executive chairman of the Washington lobbying firm, Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates.

In July,          Scientific American    published an article headlined: “NASA Seeks Nuclear Power for Mars.” Its sub-head: “After a half-century hiatus, the agency is reviving its reactor development with a test later this summer.”

It starts: “As NASA makes plans to one day send humans to Mars, one of the key technical gaps the agency is working to fill is how to provide enough power on the Red Planet’s surface for fuel production, habitats and other equipment. One option, small nuclear fission reactors, which work by splitting uranium atoms to generate heat, which is then converted into electric power.”

 

This has been excerpted from: ‘The Nuclearization of Space.’

Courtesy: Counterpunch.org

 

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