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Space Science

New Nuclear-powered Spaceship Design Revealed 285

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the goes-to-eleven dept.
Iddo Genuth writes "A U.S. based company introduced an innovative propulsion system that could significantly shorten round trips from Earth to Mars (from two years to only six months) and enable future spaceships to reach Jupiter after one year of space traveling. The system, which may dramatically affect interplanetary space travel is called the Miniature Magnetic Orion (Mini-Mag Orion for short), and is an optimization of the 1958 Orion interplanetary propulsion concept."
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New Nuclear-powered Spaceship Design Revealed

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  • Didn't we (Score:5, Funny)

    by scoot80 (1017822) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:52PM (#20691819) Journal
    recently have an article about trip to mars in a week? So.. this is really.. an inferior mode of transport for all those Mars holidayers...
  • hopefully (Score:3, Funny)

    by weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:53PM (#20691829) Journal
    Hopefully this spaceship will be able to slow down before it reaches mars.

    Unlike some spaceships... http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/13/2328233 [slashdot.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What makes you think the photonic drive wouldn't be able to slow down? Does the drive not work if you flip the ship in the opposite direction?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by icebrain (944107)
        It would work just fine... that is, assuming it works at all. The photon drive has a little problem; namely, it requires about 300 megawatts of power to produce a Newton of thrust... and that's at 100% efficiency.

        The Orion concept is much more technically feasable, barring any massive breakthroughs in materials and fusion power.
    • by NeoTron (6020)
      Look, really, where do people like you get your concepts of space travel from?

      You were probably trying to be humorous, but, really! Lookee here;

      1) Start your trip from Earth Orbit, by firing up them engines and transferring into a nice trajectory to our friendly-neighborhood planet Mars.
      2) ???
      3) Profit!... no, I mean, half-way through the journey (or actually, just a little bit before half way, to give some leeway for properly transferring into a Mars orbital path), switch off them engines!
      4) Swing your cra
      • by Propaganda13 (312548) on Friday September 21, 2007 @02:29AM (#20693437)

        1) Start your trip from Earth Orbit, by firing up them engines and transferring into a nice trajectory to our friendly-neighborhood planet Mars.
        2) ???
        3) Profit!... no, I mean, half-way through the journey (or actually, just a little bit before half way, to give some leeway for properly transferring into a Mars orbital path), switch off them engines!
        4) Swing your craft around so that the pointy-end is towards the trajectory's rear and the business end (the engines) are pointing towards the trajectory's forward path.
        5) Fire up them engines again! Hey presto! You're now flying into nuclear explosions!
        6) ???


        fixed
        • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday September 21, 2007 @10:27AM (#20696851) Homepage

          6) Go back to school. Go directly to school. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
          7) Learn about strange new concepts like Galilean Relativity, Newton's Laws of Motion and Inertial Frames of Reference.
          7a) And no, I'm not going to link you to Wikipedia's articles on those. You're going to have to go with step six for that.
          8) Now that you understand why step five is no different from step one, you can figure out what step six was supposed to be.
          9) For extra credit, write "I will not talk out of my ass about Physics" 6x10^24 times on the chalkboard.

  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:57PM (#20691867) Homepage Journal
    An WHUMP Orion WHUMP based WHUMP drive WHUMP can WHUMP be a WHUMP bit WHUMP rough, WHUMP any WHUMP study WHUMP on the WHUMP effects WHUMP on cargo/passWHUMPengers?
  • What about manned? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tanman (90298)
    speeding up via riding the wave of successive explosions is great for an unmanned craft. For a manned craft, though, I have a couple questions:

    1. How will people deal with the psychological effect of the never-ending pounding brought by this type of propulsion?

    2. Will scientists avoid this issue by instead strapping people into some kind of suspension and using a fewer number of larger explosions to get up-to-speed per day?

    3. What effect would that have on a person physically? We know people can take X
    • by flyingfsck (986395) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:18PM (#20692033)
      How do deal with all those explosions in your car engine?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DigiShaman (671371)
        A four, six, and eight cylinder engine will have their pistons out of phase from each other as to provide a continuous and smooth power curve. Now compare that with a single piston engine (lawn mower, weed eater...etc) and take notice of the excessive vibration. Even though the crank shaft has counter weights, it's the interleaving of the detonations (and flywheel) that provides smooth motion.
    • by Fox_1 (128616) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:25PM (#20692089)
      1. lot of explosions in a car engine, and we're all mostly still sane. Seriously though they are small contained explosions (couple grams of material) that vent plasma, there is no reason why people in the passenger compartment would even be aware of each individual explosion. The point is that these are nuclear weapon sized explosions, but many smaller ones providing relatively constant thrust. It won't be jerky.

      2. I don't know if you understand how acceleration works. But Fewer larger explosions would make for a rougher ride. And you don't get up to speed on a day to day basis, that would be a weird way to fly a space craft.

      3. 1 g constant acceleration for a few hours is pretty freaking fast. This engine could do the thrust of the space shuttle - which is more then 1 g, but why would you do 12 g for more then a few minutes?
      If you do 1g acceleration for a full day you are going about After 1 day, you are going 800,000 m/s - 800km/sec or 288,000 km/hour mars is about 78million km away - so you can see how this is going, if you stop accelerating at this speed it's about a 4 or 5 million km a day just coasting, or 20 or so days to get there. So it's silly to do more then 1g acceleration, unless you are leaving a planets surface and need to reach escape velocity. So no worries about weird physical effects from the acceleration - now long term zero g is a whole'nother type of problem, but again no need to make it a long trip with this kind of power.

    • by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:37PM (#20692213) Journal
      1. How will people deal with the psychological effect of the never-ending pounding brought by this type of propulsion?

      Explains...why...Kirk...talked...like...this. The...future...is...here.
             
      • Explains...why...Kirk...talked...like...this

        Ah, impulse power. I think early trekkies explained that as more of a Dean Drive (one that dumped half the inertia into a form of parallel-universe oubliette thingy) rather than the fusion "digit ships" of Footfall, which tended to buzz a bit. Some interesting speculative weaponry comes out of Niven/Pournelle books.

    • The linked article page is not coming up, but I think nuclear is being proposed to use nuclear fuels to superheat gasses for propulsion, so it could be a constant burn and not a series of explosions. At least it's not going to behave like a series of a-bombs, that's stupid.
    • by Grond (15515) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:59PM (#20692361) Homepage
      The full press release notes that the maximum acceleration would be a mere .6 G's or so, which is more than Mars but obviously less than Earth. This is unlikely to result in any unknown physiological changes. In fact, the at least occasional exposure to g-forces would probably be beneficial compared to continuous micro-gravity.

      Anyway, a 100 metric ton craft would be pretty wimpy. That's 5% of the Space Shuttle's mass, for instance. I suspect this would be an unmanned mission. (For reference, the Apollo Service Module & Lunar Module together were about 40 metric tons and the longest Apollo missions only lasted 12 days).

      Also, the 'ignition mass' for the fastest version would be a whopping 1300 metric tons of plutonium. Using uranium prices as a stand-in, that's about $300 million in fuel. That's an awful big price tag for just getting a larger probe to Mars faster.

    • by fyoder (857358) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @11:03PM (#20692381) Homepage Journal
      I think many of your concerns would be addressed by the addition of an inertial compensator [wikipedia.org]. As the wikipedia article points out, this may not fully protect against sudden shocks. It also seems less effective on people suffering from HPD (hamminess personality disorder), who may be thrown about much more violently than people less drama prone.
      • It also seems less effective on people suffering from HPD (hamminess personality disorder), who may be thrown about much more violently than people less drama prone

        Ah you might not mean Interial Compensator, but rather Heisenberg Compensator.

        How do they work?

  • by patio11 (857072) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:02PM (#20691913)
    ... this just means you get to nowhere faster.

    (Sorry, reflexive poke at Wyoming. Wyoming has wonderful people, natural resources, and breathable atmosphere. Mars is 0 for 3. Jupiter doesn't even have a surface to land on, but now we can hurry up to get there and not land on it! Like the robot we're sending had some place it would rather be for the marginal time...)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Ummm Jupiter may have a surface [wikipedia.org] to land on.
      • by Khyber (864651)
        We would be crushed by Jupiter's gravity, or eaten by the acid-laden atmosphere. We're better off aiming for one of the moons, instead.
        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Jupiter_interior.png [wikipedia.org]

          METAL HYDROGEN. If the pressure didn't kill you, the temperatures would vaporize you.
          • METAL HYDROGEN. If the pressure didn't kill you, the temperatures would vaporize you

            If hydrogen was solid, you wouldn't be vapour, matey. You'd be a very thin layer of graphite.

        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          If we weren't killed by the radiation* [abc.net.au] first. The gravity is only 2.2 g; not comfortable, but you could get around; very slowly.

          * Jupiter actually gives off more heat than it gets from the Sun. This heat comes from two sources - the slow collapse of the solid core, and the heat of decay from various radioactive trace elements. This energy appears as radiation, and as various radio signals. The radiation from Jupiter at close range is enough to kill an unprotected human within minutes.

  • Pics (Score:5, Funny)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:05PM (#20691935) Homepage
    Here's a few pics of the Mini-Mag [maglite.com] in action. Looks vaguely familiar... Interesting how the cargo capsule seems to release from one end and dock at the other. Very intriguing.
  • Bulk??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Goonie (8651) * <robert DOT merkel AT benambra DOT org> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:09PM (#20691973) Homepage
    If their gadget for doing the z-pinch thingy is anything like the Z machine [wikipedia.org] at Sandia you won't be putting it on a spacecraft any time soon...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:11PM (#20691987)
    If you unscrew the cap in the stern of the spacecraft, you will find a spare nuclear reactor behind the battery terminal.
  • by Cousarr (1117563) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:13PM (#20691997)
    First off, I am not a rocket scientist, but I am studying for a BS in Aerospace Engineering.

    How exactly is this supposed to reduce travel time? Current lengths of travel are not due to a lack of available thrust or due to amount of fuel available but rather the path taken to reach the destination. Currently in order to travel to say Mars Hohman transfers [wikipedia.org] are often used. These paths and others like them take a certain amount of time to complete, and stronger engines or more available Delta-V allow only for more instantaneous entrances of the transfers or more allowed change in course once at the ship's destination.

    In order to reduce time traveled a different orbital mechanic is needed. Even if a ship were to travel in a straight line toward a destination at a rapid enough speed that it would not have to meet up with it too much further along in its orbit it would have to be able to kill relative speed quickly enough to enter a capture orbit.

    Anyone know what orbital transfer method they're saying that this engine makes possible?
    • by ArcherB (796902) *
      n order to reduce time traveled a different orbital mechanic is needed. Even if a ship were to travel in a straight line toward a destination at a rapid enough speed that it would not have to meet up with it too much further along in its orbit it would have to be able to kill relative speed quickly enough to enter a capture orbit.

      My guess is that it turns around about half way during the trip to start slowing down.

      • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) * on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:47PM (#20692285) Journal
        My guess is that it turns around about half way during the trip to start slowing down.

        Wouldn't necessarily be half way, we're not talking linear vectors are we? If we're playing catch-up with a planetary target the crossover point might be a bit later than km/2. It's more expensive to escape the closer you are to the sun's gravity well, but I'd think a lot of the energy would be soaked relative to the velocity of the target, i.e. there may not be as much energy to dump near the target. Space ain't flat, found that out from my office mate who was doing the orbital geometry for Pioneer Venus 12/13 some years back (which had the inverse effect, being inward from EO).

        I don't know why he kept a separate set of comps in furlongs per fortnight, but us programmerz was wierd back then.

    • by StefanJ (88986) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:32PM (#20692161) Homepage Journal
      As I recall, Hohman orbits are nice ellipses with body A at perisol and body B and aposol. You make a burn to get into it and out of it; the delta-v required is the difference in velocity between a body in a "circular" orbit at that radius and the velocity of a body in the elliptical orbit. If the planet happens to be at that point, you then just need to make another burn to get into orbit. Timing is important.

      Even Hohman orbits are too "spendy" for chemically fueled rockets. Thus the complex back-and-forth gravity-assist paths that NASA probes take on the way to the outer planets, and the use of aerobreaking by Mars probes.

      Other, faster transfers are possible. You just enter another sort of elliptical orbit whose path intersects earth's orbit when you leave it, and the destination planet's orbit at a time when the planet will be there. Of course, you have to have a spaceship capable of the much greater change in velocity to enter these orbits.

      The linked-too documents suggest that the "mini mag" is not only fuel efficient (read: high Isp), but has a decent amount of thrust. This means it CAN make the drastic changes in velocity necessary.
    • by Kadin2048 (468275) * <`ten.yxox' `ta' `nidak.todhsals'> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:33PM (#20692175) Homepage Journal
      I believe they are using the "Journalist Transfer Orbit." This is a highly specialized piece of orbital mechanics: basically, you take the average distance to the destination as given by Wikipedia and divide by the spacecraft's top speed.

    • BS in Aerospace Engineering.
      ya know, it seems like a lot of these space articles are pretty much just that: BS in Aerospace Engineering.

    • Hohman transfers are slow and cheap; that's why we use them. If you have a much more energy-dense fuel supply (plutonium certainly fills the bill) there are much faster routes available.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by king-manic (409855)
        Hohman transfers are slow and cheap; that's why we use them. If you have a much more energy-dense fuel supply (plutonium certainly fills the bill) there are much faster routes available.

        I prefer a holtzman Transfer. Get there in 0.01s. Only bad thing is no one knows how it works except god and Holtzmans wife. And God help you if you bring a laser pointer.
        • by iluvcapra (782887)

          I prefer a holtzman Transfer. Get there in 0.01s. Only bad thing is no one knows how it works except god and Holtzmans wife. And God help you if you bring a laser pointer.

          That and the Spice turns you into a fish-person. Which would be fine, except that David Lynch takes one look at you and tries to make you into some kind of political point ;)

    • Current lengths of travel are not due to a lack of available thrust or due to amount of fuel available but rather the path taken to reach the destination.

      Of course they are. The available thrust determines the path taken. Basically, the transfer orbit is an elliptical orbit that touches both the inner (in this case Earth's) orbit, and the outer (Mars') orbit. There is a burn at the start, to kick the craft into the transfer orbit, and a burn at the end, to knock the craft out of the transfer orbit. I
    • Ask your professor about a "chase maneuver." that should get you on the right track.

      Hohman Transfers are nice because they are minimum energy transfers (and not necessarily that if you've got more than two bodies and a lot of patience) if you've got a high-thrust impulse engine. (as in, it's only capable of short bursts of high thrusts. compare to continuous thrust options as seen in Deep Space 1.)

      They are by no means the minimum time transfer if you've got Delta-V to spare.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      First off, I am not a rocket scientist, but I am studying for a BS in Aerospace Engineering.

      At what level? A sophmore in high school? (Translated: I love how people wave about unrelated credentials as if it gives weight to what they are talking about.)

      How exactly is this supposed to reduce travel time? Current lengths of travel are not due to a lack of available thrust or due to amount of fuel available but rather the path taken to reach the destination.

      Half true at best - because the c

  • All sorts of nasty crap will be blowing out the tail end of this puppy. Wasn't this predicted in Space 1999 with the Queller Drive?
  • Also Homer Simpson is the Safety Inspector for the nuclear parts of the project. He was picked for his Astronaut for NASA and nuclear technician / nuclear Safety job experience.
  • by barakn (641218) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:25PM (#20692101)
    These people are visionaries, except when it comes to anticipating large server loads.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088)
      These people are visionaries, except when it comes to anticipating large server loads.

      Indeed. The ship will reach Jupiter before the damned bytes get to me from their server. Discrimination! Guess I'll go off my diet to compete with Jupiter.
         
  • Jup in a Year (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:26PM (#20692113) Journal
    and enable future spaceships to reach Jupiter after one year of space traveling.

    The New Horizons probe, heading to Pluto, took slightly more than a year to reach Jupiter. However, there was no need to stop (park in orbit) and it didn't need to carry bulky life-support stuff. Thus, it could take the fast train.
           
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:41PM (#20692237) Homepage

    First, this is a blog troll, to drive traffic to some ".info" site. The actual paper, "Proposed Follow-on Mini-Mag Orion Pulsed Propulsion Concept" [aiaa.org] presented at an AIAA conference last year, is more useful.

    The basic idea is to create a small fission (not fusion) explosion using magnetic compression. Nuclear weapons use chemical explosives to create an implosion, and during the implosion the fissionable material is compressed hard enough to get a 1.5x to (maybe) 2x density increase. With magnetic compression, a small pellet can be compressed hard enough to get a 10x density increase. This allows smaller explosions, around 50 gigajoules instead of the 20 terajoules of a fission bomb. They want to use curium or californium as the fuel, rather than plutonium.

    They also want to use magnetic containment, rather than an Orion-style "pusher plate" sprayed with oil. Unclear if that can be made to work.

    The experimental work (they compressed an aluminum cylinder with a big magnet at Sandia) was done back in 2002. This isn't really under active development.

    It's not a totally unreasonable idea, but it would be a huge job to make it work. For one thing, the plan is to assemble a large spacecraft in orbit, not to take off from Earth. It doesn't help with the problem of putting mass in orbit.

    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @11:04PM (#20692393) Journal
      They also want to use magnetic containment, rather than an Orion-style "pusher plate" sprayed with oil. Unclear if that can be made to work.

      Ought to be a cake-walk once they've got the field in place to make it go "bang".

      The pellet is ALREADY confined in a mag field. The re-expanding plasma from the explosion dumps much of its energy into compressing the field between the plasma and the conductor that created it, making the field stronger (and dumping a bunch of the energy back into the conductor as electricity for potential reuse or consumption).

      Should be easy to create a selective leak in the desired direction and more fields to guide the plasma as it makes its getaway. (In fact the compressed field toward the vehicle can be used as a spring to return some of that collected energy to the plasma, further increasing the exhaust velocity. And/or the energy from the compressed field could be used to create or strengthen the "nozzle" guiding fields, just-in-time to guide the burst of plasma.)

      Lots of opportunity for cute electric/magnetic/plasma engineering tricks here.

      And unlike fusion the time scale, from ignition to completion of the exhaust cycle, is short, so plasma instabilities aren't an issue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      It's not a totally unreasonable idea

      So long as you don't look too hard at the specs on the unobtanium reactors used to power the whole thing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cerebus (10185)
      My understanding is that one of the killers (no pun intended) of the Orion concept was that radioactive ejecta from the drive would inevitably find its way to ground-level, even if it was operating in Lunar orbit. It was mentioned in Dyson's book _Project Orion_ that they had estimated the number of annual excess deaths from cancer caused by launching a single Orion from ground as well as from various orbits.

      Since this concept will still eject various nasty radioisotopes as well, I wonder if they've done t
  • Andrews Space (Score:3, Informative)

    by sabre86 (730704) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @11:54PM (#20692683)
    The company behind the technology is Andrews Space at this site [andrews-space.com].

    From my (admitted limited) viewpoint as an (inexperienced) aerospace engineer, they look like the real thing.

    The system is actually described in a 2003 AIAA conference paper linked on this page [andrews-space.com]. The paper is titled "Mini-MagOrion: A Pulsed Nuclear Rocket for Crewed Solar System Exploration [andrews-space.com]."

    I've only glanced over the article so far, but it suggests specific impulses in the 10,000 seconds plus range. That's a critical measure of efficiency in a rocket that dictates the velocity it can obtain. The shuttle's SSMEs get about 455 seconds of specific impulse at a high thrust (millions of Newtons) and ion drives, like the one on the DS1 probe, and the like get specific impulses (Isp) of about 3000 seconds at low thrust. (millinewtons). Apparently the Mini-Mag Orion can produce thrust on par with the SSME. Yikes.

    --sabre86
  • by madbawa (929673) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @11:59PM (#20692705) Journal
    ...Calculus!! I think it was Destination Moon or Explorers on the Moon (Adventures of Tintin). He had a nuclear powered rocket then. Bah!
  • We keep hearing about all these great technologies that will whiz us around the solar system but none of them are going to be of much use. Anything remotely nuclear is probably not going to be allowed to opperate in atmosphere. The military might be allowed to make and man such vehicles but I doubt I'll be booking a trip to the moon on such a thing.

    So as usual until we get some serious work put into cheap methods to get out of the gravity well nobody is going to have any real dreams fulfilled. Maybe some
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gm a i l.com> on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:46AM (#20692927) Homepage Journal
    The common thread that we keep coming back to is that to really do spaceflight, you must have some form of nuclear power. The laws of physics are profoundly strong on this point. Space is too far and gravity is too strong for chemical rockets to really be successful.

    The ideal solution is to find a source of uranium in space, beyond Earth's gravity well, such that, we can mine the uranium in space, and fuel nuclear powered spacecraft from perhaps the moon. I don't see that happening any time soon, as, it is my understanding that its is practically a fluke that a relatively small body like Earth should wind up with such a heavy ore at all. The gods were kind to us during our solar system formation, and it feels unlikely that any asteroid should have a significant uranium deposit.

    That leaves us to launching live reactors into space from Earth. Unfortunately, despite safety precautions, the environmental movement makes the development of nuclear powered spacecraft a political impossibility. We can't even build a reactor on land without a mountain of red tape and lawsuits from the greens, even when we know that building such reactors are necessary to combat global warming. Putting a nuclear reactor into something that flies is unthinkable to them, and they would surely think that putting a nuclear reactor into a rocket is downright crazy. Even RTGs, relatively benign, are met with protest. Were it up them, there would be no pictures of Saturn at all from Cassini.

    In this one area, the left wing claim to scientific curiosity falls flat on its face. The science is not worth the risk. I think the key to be able to do this, really, is going to be to engage the right wing instead and paint such research as a matter of national security. The right wing, despite its proclaimed conservatism, has a penchant for throwing caution into the wind when it suits it. Heck, they'd blow off global warming just to be able to keep driving trucks. Put a nuclear reactor on a spacecraft to get to Mars in a few weeks, sure, why not? For them, though, the issue is going to be why. Doing it just for the science isn't going to cut it. However, the right does have a penchant for engaging in enormous projects for ideological goals - witness the cold war with Russia, the current war on terror and the invasion of Iraq. None of THOSE projects were cheap or short term, and honestly, only the right wing has the zeal needed to overcome failure after failure as would occur in a really long term space colonization project. Even if you disagree with it, religion is an enormously powerful motivator.

    Thus, you'll never get many righties to buy into space for the science, or the future profits, because both don't really do much. But if you could sell them space as a religious duty, then by God, they will say screw the left, throw a hundred billion dollars a year into building nuclear rockets that this country needs, all to create christian colonies on planets and take resources from asteroids. If anything, one could always further argue that with the Russians claiming the North Pole, then, the USA has to claim (something), and it may as well be Mars and the asteroid belt. Asking them to void the UN Treaty on claiming stuff on space would elicit an automatic yes - as the right is already predisposed against the UN.

    Surely such a project would be better for the world than the war on terror.

    The point is this, and this goes for both left and right. We are entering a time of great consequence for the United States, if not the world, and, it is time for us to stop seeing each other as enemies simply because we have different ideologies. We can make our differences work for us, so long as we express what we want for ourselves as individuals, not as collective party members, and from there identify those strengths we have in each other.

    In my case, I selfishly want to see the USA building a fleet of nuclear, manned, rockets, mining asteroids, and colonizing other planets. And, if I have to read the
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      There's a whole planet spread out in pieces between Mars and Jupiter. Should be a few lumps of sub-critical mass in there you can mine.

      I kind of agree, kind of disagree with your assertion about the reasons why people would go into space. Right-wing? I don't think so, necessarily -- unless your definition of right wing means people who are most easily influenced. Your equation is cogent but your coefficients are wrong, I think.

      It isn't right-wing so much, I'd say rather that it's the category of people

  • The best way right now to travel around the solar system is on the interplanetary transport network: slow but low cost transports that are great for moving robotic probes efficiently around the solar system.

    I think it's premature to worry about building nuclear powered rockets like that; by the time we will actually be ready to send a human to another planet, we'll have completely different technology. Or, perhaps, we can use suspended animation and use the ITN even for human cargo.

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