Dr. Madhu Thangavelu, Jake Dodd, Monday, 11-26-12 November 27, 2012Posted by The Space Show in Uncategorized.
Tags: breeder reactor, Dr. Madhu Thangavelu, EML1, fissile material, gamma emitter, Jake Dodd, NERVA, nuclear fuel in space, nuclear weapons proliferation, SNAP-X, Space Exploration Architectures Concept and Synthesis Studio, Space Nuclear Activation Plant, Thorium, U-233, USC Dept. of Astronautical Engineering, USC School of Architecture
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Dr. Madhu Thangavelu, Jake Dodd, Monday, 11-26-12
Guests: Dr. Madhu Thangavelu, Jake Dodd. Topics: This program discusses Jake’s concept of placing a nuclear fuel plant in space in support of nuclear propulsion/space needs. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. We welcomed back Dr. Madhu Thangalevu and his student Jake Dodd to discuss the concept of SNAP-X: The Space Nuclear Activation Plant. I have uploaded his AIAA paper by the same title and his Power Point slide presentation to The Space Show blog which should provide you with more specific information about Jake’s concept. Essentially, the plan calls for putting a breeder reactor in space to supply nuclear fuel for space needs safely rather than launching from Earth all the time. During our first segment, both Professor Thangavelu and Mr. Dodd explained the concept in detail. We talked about weapons proliferation in the process, the breeder reactor and why that was the chosen technology, the safety in place for this technology, and the use of it in the EML1 location and why. Part of our conversation focused in on projected time lines and development costs as I tried to get an idea of what would be involved in bringing this project to at least an Earth-based demo status. Listeners emailed and called in about the problems given the amount of fear within the public and parts of the government every time the word nuclear is mentioned, then saying that the use of a breeder reactor heightens that societal fear level. We discussed ways of dealing with this during our discussion. In addition, listeners questioned the safety of a breeder reactor and the use of Thorium as a non-weapon nuclear fuel.
In our second segment, we talked more about tight budgets, private and public partnerships, and international cooperation to bring this project to at least demo status. Charles called in to challenge our guests on their Thorium comments regarding conversion to U-233 which he said was an effective fuel for weapons as was U-235. I believe you will find this exchange most useful in understanding many of the issues regarding this project. Our guests brought up the nuclear rocket history and the NERVA project, plus we asked Jake for his plan of attack in getting his project going. As our program was ending, Madhu talked about his next Design Studio Class which culminates with new student projects on Dec. 18th.
I look forward to talking about many of these projects on The Space Show in 2013. Post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog. If you want to email either of our guests, please do so through me.
Here are the two documents we talked about during the show regarding Jake’s concept.