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NASA Space Science Technology

NASA Wants Revolutionary Radiation Shielding Tech 160

coondoggie writes "Long term exposure to radiation is one of the biggest challenges in long-duration human spaceflights, and NASA is now looking for what it calls 'revolutionary' technology that would help protect astronauts from harmful exposure. 'It is believed that the best strategy for radiation protection and shielding for long duration human missions is to use electrostatic active radiation shielding while, in concert, taking the full advantage of the state-of-the-art evolutionary passive (material) shielding technologies for the much reduced and weaken radiation that may escape and hit the spacecraft.'"
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NASA Wants Revolutionary Radiation Shielding Tech

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  • by richdun ( 672214 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:28PM (#35565054)
    Active shielding could lead to some neat side techs, as with most NASA tech. But, this being what it is, I'll summarize the next few dozen comments: (insert comment here about not wasting money on NASA when we could use their budget to take care of some rounding errors in the national debt) (insert irrelevant reference to Fukushima here) (insert comment that all NASA craft would now be indestructible with the addition of something for which the polarity could be reversed and / or to which all auxiliary power could be diverted)
  • by dmgxmichael ( 1219692 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:42PM (#35565222) Homepage

    The reason, even 1st generation ones will be able to lift 2 to 3 times as much weight in orbit as the chemical rockets we have now. This is the difference between orbiting the earth with substantial protection in an overbuilt craft and orbiting with tin foil.

    The simple act of wrapping the crew quarters with water tanks for one. Water, when exposed to vacuum, freezes. It expands when it freezes, sealing any holes made by micro meteorites or space junk. It absorbs radiation somewhat readily, meaning you'd have to purify it before putting it to its most common use - drinking it.

    But building a spacecraft or spaceship with such a concept in place will take a monumental increase in lifting capacity. We've taken chem rockets about as far as they are going to go - nuclear is the way if we can ever get over our irrational fear of the stuff.

  • by jgtg32a ( 1173373 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @06:02PM (#35565494)
    This is just a random thought that I had, and I'll admit I know jack about physics. But from my understanding high energy electromagnetic radiation needs to be block by rather dense things because it increase the chance that the electromagnetic wave will collide with the atoms and be absorbed instead of pass through it.

    What if there was a superconductor that was saturated with electrons, would that be effective at blocking electromagnetic radiation? I'm asking at more of a theoretical level, and I am ignoring all of the engineering problems.

    Be nice, I haven't taken physics since high-school.
    -An Inquisitive Idiot
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @06:05PM (#35565522) Homepage Journal

    With the exception of Project Orion, all of the nuclear propulsion concepts I've read about, and even the actual trials made in the 1960s, have much lower thrust than chemical fueled rockets. In the case of ion and plasma thrusters, vanishingly little thrust. Even in the case of fission/thermal rockets (e.g., NERVA), only about a third of the thrust of chemical rockets. They are less suitable for getting stuff into orbit than chemical rockets.

    Once you're in orbit (or beyond), thrust counts for much less than exhaust velocity.

    And as for Project Orion: Yeah, some of the proposed designs could heave a pretty damn big ship into orbit, But the fear of fallout from hundreds of little atomic bombs going off in the atmosphere is anything but irrational. One of the principles of the project, Freeman Dyson, specifically stated that the risk wasn't worth it. (I mean, maybe if there was a big asteroid on the way . . .)

    And . . . jeeze:
    "Water, when exposed to vacuum, freezes."

    No, it evaporates.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:31AM (#35571568)
    You are an idiot. Do you have any idea how much time and effort goes into producing a proposal like this? This is the result of years of effort by a significant number of people. It is literally impossible that NASA, or any governmental agency, could initiate a project like this as a response to a situation that is less then two weeks old.

    Your mindless trashing of NASA is revolting. The people at NASA are dedicated professionals. I doubt you have the qualifications to mow the lawn at a NASA facility, given the shear ignorance of your statement. I assume that you trash talk you betters because you are both stupid and vile. You are most likely incapable of tying you own shoes, so your only response is to slander people who have real accomplishments.

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.