Extra-terrestrial nuclear power stations : transportation and operation
Author(s)Kane, Susan Christine
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Nuclear Engineering.
Jeffrey A. Hoffman.
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Many challenges exist when considering nuclear power to provide electricity for bases on the Moon or Mars, including launch safety, landing safety, deployment, control, and protecting the astronauts from radiation. Examples from the past provide guidance in these areas but surface operations on another body have never been attempted and rarely studied. This thesis discusses the risks and design considerations for launching, transporting, landing, and operating a nuclear fission reactor on the Moon or Mars. A reference mission and reactor were chosen to facilitate analysis in these areas. Launching a reactor involves meeting environmental and federal regulations. This includes an extensive safety analysis of launch to determine if launch accidents pose a serious risk to the public due to fuel release or inadvertent criticality. The reactor must also be able to survive the launch conditions without damage. Transport mainly involves protecting the reactor from damage from meteoroids. The reactor will then land through propulsive means on the Moon or Mars. Landing a reactor will also require a safety analysis to determine the consequences of a landing accident on the Moon or Mars. On the surface, the reactor must be at a location far enough away from the astronauts to limit radiation exposure to the astronauts from the reactor.(cont.) Interaction from ground control and astronauts will be necessary to initiate startup, shutdown, and to change the power level of the reactor; however, startup and operation of the reactor must be autonomous due to the communications time lag between Earth and the Moon or Mars. These are significant challenges but all are feasible given the technology and experience in nuclear engineering and astronautics that exits today.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Nuclear Engineering, 2005.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 111-115).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Nuclear Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology