Space:1999 Déjà vu: Nuclear Moon Bases

Posted by Michael Pinto on Nov 22, 2008 in Science |

Space:1999 Moonbase Alpha

NASA is starting to make fairly elaborate plans for building a moon base which include creating on site nuclear power plants. This reminds me a great deal of the 70s series Space:1999 which took the concept a step further and made the moon a dumping ground for nuclear waste as well. What’s funny is that except for the possibility of a transportation disaster the idea of storing nuclear waste on the moon may seems like a better long term solution than storing it here on Earth. Also that would give an economic reason to return to the moon.

However I’d love for the incoming Obama administration to give up on a moon project and aim directly for Mars. If we’re going to work on a ten year project why repeat something we already did in the 60s which China will beat us to this time? I’d say to leave the moon race to China and India and that NASA should aim a bit higher, or further out.

Here’s the link to the Popular Science story on a nuclear moon base — it makes you see that a moon project could sidetrack our focus on getting to Mars:

Nuclear Moon Bases
NASA weighs its options for lighting up moon bases

“When lunar astronauts flick on their televisions after a long day of prospecting, they’ll have a trashcan-size nuclear reactor to thank for their nightly dose of prime time. NASA, looking past the already daunting task of simply getting humans to the moon by 2020, recently started considering proposals for ways to power lunar habitats. Batteries and fuel cells provide only short-term solutions. Solar power would be limited where a single night lasts as long as 354 hours. So space-agency officials have started making plans to go nuclear.

The outline for the Fission Surface Power (FSP) plan is fairly straightforward: An underground, uranium-powered nuclear reactor produces heat and drives a power converter to generate electricity. The nuke plant would churn out 40 kilowatts of electricity, enough power to provide life support to four astronauts with plenty left over to mine oxygen from lunar soil and run moon buggies.”

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