[ExI] To Boldly Go Nowhere, for Now

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Fri Sep 20 13:34:23 UTC 2013

On Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 05:54:24AM -0700, The Avantguardian wrote:

> Unless routine missions in LEO count as "exploration", manned space
> exploration has already been on pause for over 30 years. But it turns out
> robots won't be going anywhere anytime soon either because we are running out
> of Pu-238. And guess who won't let us make more?

Sounds great, except it ain't true. Photovoltaics works well beyond 
Mars orbit, and for everything else there's plain good nuclear
reactors. Critical mass of U-235 or Pu-239 is very small, and
they have way higher power densities than puny RTGs. 


For larger installations, you can use MSRs. Notice that 
you need redox/hydrothermal geology for fissible ore formation, 
so chances are good you won't find
suitable ores outside of Earth. We shouldn't waste these
resources. We might need them very badly in future.
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