Events at Physics
Nuclear Power is about to Transform our Presence in Space.
We are a decade into a revolution in our ability to access, explore, and use space. The cost of rockets and spacecraft and the time between launches have dropped by orders of magnitude. Advanced technologies allow us to send probes into harsh environments like the atmosphere of the Sun, the frozen craters of the lunar poles and the icy moons of the outer planets. Our ambitions are limited by the amount of energy we can carry into space, or more precisely the density of that energy. We need heat and electricity to operate on the moon at night or in permanently shadowed craters, and more efficient rockets to transport humans and cargo to Mars, and nuclear power is the solution. A small fission reactor can continuously power a base on the moon or Mars for a decade, and nuclear propulsion is several times more efficient than chemical rockets, halving the duration of a crewed mission. This talk will review the amazing work in nuclear technology and design under way right now to deploy nuclear power and propulsion in space.