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NASA Developing Nuclear Reactor For Moon and Mars 424

Al writes "NASA recently finished testing a miniature nuclear reactor that would provide power for an astronaut base on the Moon or Mars. The reactor combines a small fission system with a Stirling engine to make a 'safe, reliable, and efficient' way to produce electricity. The system being tested at NASA's Glenn Research Center can produce 2.3 kilowatts and could be ready for launch by 2020, NASA officials say. The reactor ought to provide much more power than solar panels but could prove controversial with the public concerned about launching a nuclear power source and placing it on the Moon or another planet."

What If the Apollo Program Had Continued? 389

proslack writes "The die had been cast years before Apollo 11 had even reached the moon. In the late 1960s, the Vietnam war was straining US finances. A fatal fire on the Apollo launch pad in January 1967 had blotted NASA's copybook. The Soviet moon effort seemed to be going nowhere. In the budget debates during the summer of 1967, Congress refused NASA's request to fund an extended moon programme. What if things had been different that summer? Suppose Congress had granted NASA's wish, then fast-forward 40-odd years..." A nice little what-if sort of story that makes sorta nostalgic for a non-existent present.

How NASA Will Bomb the Moon To Find Water 280

mattnyc99 writes "A few weeks ago we got first word of NASA's plan to crash a spacecraft into the moon next February. The new issue of Popular Mechanics has an in-depth look at the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite and its low-cost, lightning-fast mission prep — even if delays have pushed it to late February or early March. Quoting: 'Andrews had no budget for an expensive lander to seek water, and conditions in the eternally dark polar craters would kill rovers, with temperatures close to minus 300 F. Instead, Blue Ice and its partners at Northrop Grumman came up with a concept to bring the lunar floor out in the open.... Since engineering precision hardware would break the budget, the LCROSS team had to make existing components work together.'"

"You can't get very far in this world without your dossier being there first." -- Arthur Miller