Toward Global Standards on Peaceful uses of Space Nuclear Reactor Power Systems

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M.S. El-Genk (2009), JBIS, 62, 282-293

Refcode: 2009.62.282
Keywords: Space reactor power systems, radioisotope power systems, nuclear electrical propulsion, UN resolutions, nuclear thermal propulsion, safety standards and guidelines, peaceful uses, energy conversion

Space reactor power systems are enabling to future space exploration and outposts on the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies. They could provide for electrical propulsion, thermal propulsion and bimodal operation of thermal propulsion and electrical power generation. The much higher specific impulse of nuclear thermal and electric propulsion, compared to chemical rockets, could significantly shorten the travel time to Mars and farthest destinations, reducing the exposure of equipment and astronauts to the harmful space radiation. This article addresses safety issues relevant to the design, operation and end-of-life storage of these systems in an attempt to stimulate a discussion of the need to establish specific and globally agreed upon safety standards and guidelines for future peaceful uses.

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