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Prometheus Woes

  1. Sep 12, 2005 #1


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    Staff: Mentor

    NASA grounds project at Knolls laboratory
    End of $65 million program leaves 150 employees hired for Prometheus work with uncertain futures

    By ERIC ANDERSON, Deputy business editor
    First published: Saturday, September 10, 2005

    NISKAYUNA -- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has pulled the plug on a $65 million nuclear propulsion research program at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, leaving 150 employees in limbo.

    "NASA and Naval Reactors have mutually agreed to terminate their partnership to work on Prometheus," as the program was called, a Knolls spokeswoman said Friday afternoon. "NASA has been changing its priorities. I don't have many details on this," she added.

    Knolls added 350 employees this year, 150 of them specifically for the space research program, and it planned to add more in 2006.

    Well - I have seen this before - no surprises here. :grumpy:

    This is what many nuclear and aerospace engineers have to face in their careers, since the late 1980's.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2005 #2
    It hits home

    My current employer was scheduled this year to start building a prototype manufacturing facility for this fuel. It was high hopes for us.
  4. Nov 8, 2005 #3


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    Prepared Statement by Michael Griffin - House Science Committee Hearing: "Status of NASA's Programs"

    November 3, 2005

    Statement of

    Michael D. Griffin, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration before the Committee on Science, House of Representatives

    Prometheus Nuclear Systems and Technology (PNS&T):


  5. Nov 8, 2005 #4
    It seems that NASA will never get around to doing anything, if they keep putting off and procrastinating research into something they may have to completely rely on someday. Did the ESAS cite what they meant by resource constraint? Perhaps manpower, constructing a reactor on the moon ought to require a lot of people.

    Also, I believe I heard something before about nuclear materials being taken into space being illegal?
  6. Nov 8, 2005 #5


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    Prepared Statement by Michael Griffin - House Science Committee Hearing: "Status of NASA's Programs"

    Not quite. It is illegal under international agreements to deploy nuclear weapons in space. Exploratory vehicles like Cassini and Galileo use RTG's based on alpha-decay of Pu238.
  7. Nov 8, 2005 #6


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    As Astronuc stated, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 bans:
    1) Placement of nuclear weapons or "weapons of mass destruction" in orbit around the Earth.
    2) Installation of nuclear weapons or "weapons of mass destruction" on the moon, on any other celestial body, or in outer space
    3) Use of the moon or any celestial body for military purposes, including weapons testing of any kind.
    However, many satellites and probes [ especially those to the farther planets ], are
    powered by RTGs. Additionally, the Russians have had orbitting satellites powered by
    small nuclear reactors.
    Dr. Gregory Greenman
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