[ExI] To Boldly Go Nowhere, for Now

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Fri Sep 20 14:05:02 UTC 2013

On Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 02:57:10PM +0100, BillK wrote:

> NASA have researched alternatives to Pu-238 and rejected them.

If you want it the RTG way, and you run into supply bottleneck,
then perhaps it's wise to diversify your options.
> I understand there is much opposition to launching nuclear reactors,
> ;)  and scientists have worried about radiation damage to instruments.
> (Heavy shielding not allowed in rocket launches).

The Russians flew several of these in LEO. In general, a long boom
and a little shielding goes a long way.
> And I don't think TOPAZ actually exists nowadays.

I have little doubt that the Russians will unmothball the program
for a little money.

However, if you want to develop the inner solar system, up to Mars,
then PV is perfectly adequate. Even for propulsion, InP on capton
gives you 3 kW/kg. Half that at Mars.
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