Plan would have to trade-off McKee 5 (Maggie, journalist at NewScientist.com, cites Gary Bernstein, astronomer @ U of Pennsylvania, Aug 31, [www.space4peace.org/articles/nuclear_poor_for_astronomy.htm] AD: 7-7-11, jam)
While reactors would definitely boost a mission's power level, the technology does come at a heavy financial cost. NASA projects Prometheus will cost $3 billion between now and 2010. In the agency's 2006 budget request, the money was scheduled to come from "exploration systems" - and not the science budget. But Bernstein says he is worried about the effect of the cost on NASA's other missions. "If you're going to make this a priority, then what gets deprioritised?" he asked New Scientist. "It's not free."
Solvency – General
Nuclear propulsion fails – can’t take the stress of sustained nuclear launches and no components work together – there evidence is optimistic self serving analysis done by Orion’s creators
The ship's structure itself would take some design work. It has to be able to take the stress of sitting next to a bunch of exploding nuclear bombs. Even with shock absorbers, it would be under repeated stress of a type not experienced by any vehicle we have ever built. The ability of a battleship to survive the strain of firing its own guns was the subject of a considerable amount of development efforts in the early 20th century, and that strain would be dramatically less than the strain experienced by an Orion. Building such a ship would be more than just welding together big hunks of steel. One of the big problems would be the repeated nature of the stress. Certainly an Orion could be built that would withstand a dozen explosions, even a hundred. But it has to withstand thousands of shocks over the course of a significant period of operation in space. It would take a non-trivial amount of work to design a structure to do this, especially without the benefit of modern CAD techniques. It would be an essentially new area of development, because nobody has ever built such a thing before. None of our knowledge about building vehicles and structures would easily translate into building such a ship. In short, Orion was not proven technology. It's not even something that we could be entirely confident of getting working in the near future. While many of the individual components had been developed, the problem of ensuring that they would all actually work togetheras a system to produce an effective spaceship was not solved. The closest the designers came to any sort of test was a proof-of-concept test of pulse propulsion in general, involving a small model which flew a short distance using conventional explosives. Various accounts of Orion have stated that there was substantial work still to be done on the design of the pulse units, with special bomb designs being called for. Even in the early research, significant effort was directed toward research in this area, although it is mostly still classified so we don't know exactly what was being developed. The project's advocates said that integrating all of these components into a fully working design would be straightforward and cheap, but outside reviews were done on the project and they invariably said that major technical problems remained unsolved. They also said that the estimates of the time and money necessary to develop the project seemed extremely optimistic. Nuclear propulsion fails – unreliable, and cant withstand environmental threats in space
Zampino and Cataldo 4 (Edward and Robert – researchers @ Glenn Research Center (NASA), “The Challenge of Space Nuclear Propulsion and Power Systems Reliability”, Reliability and Maintainability Annual Symposium, Jan. 2004, pp. 431-436, IEEE) JPG
One of the greatest challenges of Space Nuclear Propulsion and Power Systems Reliability Engineering and systems engineering will be to attain the extremely high reliability required for safety and mission critical functions.This must be achieved with limited resources over a mission time that could be as high as 15 years. The Hybrid Bimodal Nuclear Thermal and Electric rocket will have to contend with the environmental threats that were encountered by the Voyager, Galileo, and Cassini missions. Nuclear power systems subjected to the planetary surface environment such as the Martian surface will have to survive. NASA has learned from JPL interplanetary missions that a major design strategy for high reliability and long life missions must be to design a system that withstands all of the deep space, orbital, and planetary surface environments. This is a major challenge since nuclear systems will be complex and there are many environmental threats such as ionizing radiation, space charging effects, micro-meteoroids, space debris, planetary surface erosion, contamination, and temperature extremes. There are many other challenges within system design that must be met for Nuclear Thermal and Nuclear Electric engines. Loss of thrust or thrust control is safety critical for manned missions. In particular, the exposure of system control electronics and critical engine components to external radiation or to residual reactor radiation must be a key consideration in the design.
Solvency – General
Nuclear propulsion fails and causes massive radiation – empirically proven by US and Russia
Grossman and Long 96 (Karl – Journalism prof @ the State U of NY and author of "Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed To Know About Nuclear Power”, and Judith – space writer @ The Nation, 12/16/96, Nuclear Roulette, Questia) JPG
On November 17 a Russian Mars space probe malfunctioned, hurtling to Earth with a half-pound of plutonium--the most toxic substance known--aboard. The plutonium may finally have landed off the coast of Chile, where it will remain hotly radioactive for 2,000 years, or it may have dispersed in the atmosphere to become airborne poison (no one knows for sure). The crash of the nuclear probe is another siren in the night warning of the folly of using nuclear power in space, or anywhere. So far, six Russian nuclear missions have failed--including the Cosmos 954 satellite, which scattered hundreds of pounds of radioactive debris over northwest Canada--and three U.S. nuclear missions have had accidents, including the crash of a SNAP-9A satellite carrying 2.1 pounds of plutonium, which, according to European nuclear agencies, "vaporized" and "dispersed widely" over the planet. (Medical physicist Dr. John Gofman connects this crash with elevated levels of lung cancer worldwide.) But despite these warnings, the push to deploy nuclear technology in space continues. On September 19, the White House unveiled its new national space policy, under which the Pentagon and NASA will be working on "multiple nuclear propulsion concepts" with the Defense Special Weapons Agency. In other words Son of Star Wars is on the drawing board. What next? October 1997 brings the Cassini mission to Saturn (with the largest plutonium payload--72.3 pounds--ever) atop a Titan rocket, known to blow up on launch. "Inadvertent reentry" to Earth's atmosphere would mean "approximately 5 billion of the estimated 7 to 8 billion world population...could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure," says NASA's environmental impact statement. What else? "Bi-modal" nuclear spacecraft to provide power and propulsion to military satellites; nuclear-powered satellites to transmit high-definition TV signals; two plutonium-fueled probes for a 1999 mission to Pluto; nuclear-powered rockets to Mars and colonies there. On the program for the Fourteenth Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion at the Energy Department's Brookhaven National Laboratory in January is its plan to rocket "long-lived fission products [nuclear waste] into outer space." The failed Russian mission has had one success. "The danger of a disaster involving a plutonium space project is now real and imaginable to people," says Bruce Gagnon of Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, which will convene an international meeting in Europe in March. "It's sheer and utter madness," he adds. At the very least, it's Russian roulette.
Most importantly, there are two aspects to any space program - the propulsion technology, andwhatthat technology is used to propel. Ignoring for now the expense or difficulty of developing the Orion propulsion system, what of the craft's mission payload? If you can send thousands of tons into orbit, what are those thousands of tons going to be and how much will they cost? Let's take, as an example, the common proposal of using surfaced-launched Orions as interplanetary explorers in the 60s or 70s as an alternative to the Apollo program. It turns out that there are some fundamental technology and cost obstacles to doing this. First, you have to support a significant human crew in space for long periods of time. Even an Orionwouldtake months of travel to get to nearby planets like Mars, and a mission to the outer solar system would take years. The crew would also want to spend significant periods of time at the destination planets, so as to conduct exploration. This doesn't sound like such a big deal today - after all, we've had people in space for over a year, we've landed on the moon, and we've done a great deal of study of conditions on other planets. It was a much bigger deal back in the 60s and to some extent the early 70s. Until the mid to late 70s, nobody had ever lived in space for any extended period of time. Mission durations were measured in weeks on a space capsule, not months on a space station. Humans had never set foot on another planet till 1969, and at that point even robotic probes were quite primitive.
High risk of mission failure – having no back up puts too much stress on the one reactor
Powell et. al. 4 (James – principal @ Plus Ultra Technology (PUT), Aerospace America, January 2004,
Technical risk is another factor to consider in assessing nuclear propulsion systems. Unlike sensors and electronics, nuclear propulsion does not allow use of a redundant or back-up nuclear propulsion system. There is only one reac- tor, and it, together with the associated hard- ware, must function reliably during the entire mission.Goingahead with missions withouthaving fully demonstrated propulsion system reliability, and without extensive long-term test- ing, risks mission failure. Because of the much shorter integrated operating time of NTP, its re- liability can be demonstrated much sooner than that of NEP.