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Comment: Re:What a load of nonsense (Score 1) 376

by ubergeek2009 (#48153543) Attached to: Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq

There's a reason that even if they were serviceable that they were never used. Chemical weapons are terrible. Both strategically and from a human standpoint as well. Chemical weapons don't care whether the soldier being paralyzed is yours or the enemy's and the group being terrorized by the weaponry will change as the wind changes.

Comment: Re: Look at the orbital mechanics (Score 1) 219

by ubergeek2009 (#48146431) Attached to: When will the first successful manned Mars mission happen?

The reactors used in the navy have ludicrously long lifespans. We're talking between 10 and thirty years between fuelings. A reactor for a single mars mission would at longest have to operate for less than 3 years. That means it doesn't have to be as resistant to weakening due to neutron bombardment which leads to a less massive structure. Additionally you don't need as much shielding. Shielding is only necessary between the crew cabin and the reactor. You can let the rest radiate off into space. It doesn't have to be impact resistant. If you have an event that destroys your reactor it probably destroyed something else fairly important ad well. You're not going to be able to (within reason) protect against high velocity impacts from anything larger than a paint chip.

Comment: Re: Look at the orbital mechanics (Score 1) 219

by ubergeek2009 (#48145527) Attached to: When will the first successful manned Mars mission happen?

Don't be so certain on that. Solid state wins out for small applications (probes and satellites are usually less than 1 kW. The USSR launched a couple spy satellites upwards of 6 kW.) , but as the power generation requirements increase the more complex systems win out for efficiency. Have you noticed how the U.S. nuclear fleet does not use solid state reactors for propulsion? For reference a VASMR capable of being used for a manned mars mission may need several MW of continuous power.

Comment: Re:Why go to another gravity well? (Score 1) 206

I"m not suggesting that we stay Earthbound. I'm suggesting that we don't land on another planet. The asteroids will have most, if not all of the available resources on planets with the added benefit of not sitting at the bottom of a gravity well. Getting out of and returning to the gravity well is the most costly and most dangerous part of any space mission. If we can get out to the asteroid belt then travel to and from nearby asteroids will be cheap if we use ion drives or VASMIR engines. Additionally sending raw materials to anywhere in the solar system would be cheap with the great giant Jupiter sitting nearby to give us gravity assists. The only problems left are health related. We'll need radiation shielding which would be available either by digging into an asteroid or layering materials on the exterior of stations. Then comes the issue of needing a downward force to prevent atrophy. We can spin up an asteroid or a space station to solve that problem.

All the simple programs have been written.