Although NASA's nuclear space program has launched several nuclear-propelled rockets in the past, it remains under the public radar and has not been a part of any space mission for the last few decades. Now, with NASA’s focus on the solar-powered moon base, one must ask whether NASA is still investing any effort into its nuclear energy program. Our objective is to identify why NASA has made so little progress on its nuclear program by identifying possible problems in communication, management, funding, and feasibility, as well as problems relating to public and government perception of the program. With this analysis in mind, we hope to elucidate the problems which might be inhibiting NASA from actually deploying a nuclear-powered interplanetary mission.
Empirically proven that NASA isn’t effective
Abrams 8 (Avi, owner of Ian Media, 10/10/8, http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/10/project-orion-powered-by-atomic-bomb.html) JPG
Parts of this project still seem to be classified today. George Dyson recollects: "NASA had no interest, they tried to kill the project. The people who supported it were the Air Force, so they made it top secret..." It is still very dangerous and touchy subject, mostly because of the heart of the project - controlled ways to get directed energy explosions, and directing nuclear explosions at the ship.
Nuclear power wont work – technical challenges
David 3 (Leonard, senior writer @ Space.com, 2/7/3, http://www.marsnews.com/archives/2003/02/07/nasas_nuclear_prometheus_project_viewed_as_major_paradigm_shift.html) JPG
Enthusiasm towards Project Prometheus, a major new initiative to reactivate nuclear space power and propulsion work under NASA, has been muted due to the space shuttle Columbia tragedy. NASA is undertaking Prometheus in partnership with the Department of Energy. At stake is moving forward nuclear technology in the hope of enabling an unprecedented science data return from future robotic missions, making use of high-power science instruments and advanced communications technology. Project Prometheus faces a number of technical challenges, not the least of which is to produce a space reactor system that is safe to launch and function for years on end as it cruises toward deep space targets.
No scientists to work on the plan – aging work force and no recruits
Pizarro-Chong et. al. 10 (Ary, researcher @ McGill space flight dynamics lab, 11/11/10, “Development of space nuclear reactors for lunar purposes: overview of technical and non-technical issues”, 1339-1344, Systems and Control in Aeronautics and Astronautics (ISSCAA), IEEE) JPG
There are other significant concerns that could effectively stop the space program: the loss of a capable workforce and the lack of a central repository of SNP experience, information and technologies. The reduction and aging of the space nuclear power workforce is reaching a critical point. The number of students entering the field is almost zero and there has not been enough interest (or need) to bring a mature second generation up to the level of significant expertise.
Solvency – Launch Failure
Nuclear propulsion fails – high likelihood of accidents which result in extinction – NASA officials concede there’s no cleanup plan
Gagnon 11 (Bruce, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space group, 7/1/11, http://www.space4peace.org/articles/plutonium_space_launch.htm) JPG
NASA sadly appearscommitted to maintaining their dangerous alliance with the nuclear industry. Both entities view space as a new market for the deadly plutonium fuel. Back in 1997 we organized an international campaign against NASA and the Department of Energy's launch of 72 pounds of plutonium on the Cassini mission. A man by the name of Alan Kohn volunteered to help us with that campaign. Alan had been the Emergency Preparedness Officer at NASA during the Galileo (1989) and Ulysses (1990) plutonium launches at the space center in Florida. By the time Cassini was to be launched Alan had retired from NASA and felt free to speak out.Hetold the New York Times, just prior to the launch, that NASA had no plan to contain and clean-up after an accident on or near the launch pad that released plutonium into the environment. He said the operating plan he had worked with during the two previous nuclear launches was a joke and was only intended to serve as a reassurance to the public. Alan told us that a long-time family friend, working in the White House, had informed him that more people contacted Washington opposing Cassini than any other issue in U.S. history. While NASA maintains that they are "searching for the origins of life" on Mars, in reality they are mapping the red planet and doing soil sampling which is all intended to serve the ultimate goal of establishing a nuclear powered mining colony there in the future. The Haliburton Corporation, known for their connections to the Bush-Cheney administration and fraud in Iraq, has been working on a drilling mechanism for Mars exploration for some time. The taxpayersare being asked once again to pay for nuclear missions that could endanger the life of all the people on the planet. As we saw in Louisiana, following the Hurricane Katrina debacle, the federal government is not prepared to do disaster relief and clean-up. A plutonium release over Florida could devastate a 60-mile radius - from the space center to Disney World. It would only take one pound of plutonium-238 released as dust in the atmosphere to give everyone on the Earth a lethal dose of the toxic fuel. Have we not learned anything from Chernobyl and Fukushima? We don't need to be launching nukes into space. It's not a gamble we can afford to take. Plan has a high likelihood of failing on launch
Urfer and LaForge 5 (Bonnie – anti-nuclear activist and John – writer @ NukeWatch, Summer 2005, www.nukewatchinfo.org/Quarterly/20052summer/20052page5.pdf) JPG
Additional launches of radioactive devices increase the risk of a deadly accident. Space shuttle fatalities and the 1- in-20 failure rate of NASA’s Titan-IV booster rocket highlight the downside of NASA nuclearism.Facilitiesproducingreactorsandplutonium batteries, like the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico and the Idaho National Engineering Lab, will spread even more radioactive contamination to workers and nearby communities. The New Mexican reported that when Cassini’s RTGs were being processed between 1993 and 1995, the 241 cases of isotope contamination that occurred at Los Alamos were initially covered-up.