Two KRUSTY nuclear reactors power a settlement on Mars. From CNET.com.

Nuclear power is not doing well. The cheap fracking of natural gas and oil, while it is putting a crimp on our enemies, is also hurting the nuclear industry. Already racked with the high cost of regulation (we’re talking millions per plant), no compensation for carbon emission and a lack of public understanding about what nuclear power actually is, the nuclear industry is failing. Plants are closing around the US, and the workforce is not attracting the best and brightest. As the workforce ages and less plants are available, we have the risk that US nuclear power is going to go extinct. Except for the United States Navy and China, nuclear power seems on the way out the door.

And yet…
Continue reading “Is KRUSTY the future for nuclear engineers?”

by baldilocks

When potential World War Three (or Four) antagonists collide:

The Center for Strategic and International Studies Friday released a report calling on officials to urgently pay attention to threats against US space systems and ground stations.

The report, Space Assessment 2018, reviews open-source information on the counterspace activities of other countries, especially China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, as well as examining the counterspace activities of some other countries and of some non-state actors.

China, the report notes is a “rising space power that is progressing steadily in the development and testing” of anti-satellite systems using weapons launched to intercept a satellite or attacking the target from orbit, as well as having advanced jamming, cyberattack, and other capabilities “that can threaten a variety of US space systems.”

Although Russian space systems have deteriorated since the fall of the Soviet Union, that country is now modernizing its space capabilities, according to the report, “and has revived or developed new counterspace weapons of nearly all types.”

North Korea and Iran are behind Russian and Chinese capabilities, the report says, but “each is making quick progress thanks to technology transfers from other countries and their own ballistic missile programs. “

Battle space. In case you weren’t worried enough.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Anyone who watches Star Wars, Star Trek or any other sci-fi flicks knows the excitement of watching humans explore a new world. It’s exciting mainly because we currently can’t do it. At best, we can send trash can-sized robots to Mars and a few older robots at the edge of our solar system. The last time we stepped on the moon was in 1972. Essentially, we’ve been stuck in low earth orbit for 40 years.

Trump indicated he wanted to lead in space, including going back to the moon and then to Mars. Plenty of people talk about going big in space. I remember Bush telling us we’d get a moon base, and Obama saying eloquent words about NASA. But they didn’t get the job done.

It is easier to do something in the realm of the possible. Sending people to the space station, while it is challenging, doesn’t push any boundaries in space. We aren’t going to learn a lot more in low earth orbit. Building a moon base will give us the knowledge needed to build a base on Mars, and building on Mars will eventually get us off Earth permanently.

You would think people would be excited about this. Trump understands he can’t fund both efforts, and his push to allow funding for the space station to expire is done for exactly this reason. Yet already people are lining up to say they will fight him.

This isn’t unprecedented. Back in age of exploration, plenty of people never left the shore line. They told the exploring mariners of their day that they were crazy to try and cross into the Indian Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific and eventually travel around the world. But after each of these feats, it encouraged others to do the same. Magellan’s expedition nearly ended in failure, but his survivors (Juan Elcano and 17 others) returned home to a huge welcome, and Juan was awarded money and numerous titles. Subsequent circumnavigations were never viewed nearly as highly, and over time it was just routine.

We need to get that way in space, first with the moon and then with Mars, and we can only do that if we leave our own shore line behind.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

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