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NASA Restarts Plutonium Production 139

Posted by timothy
from the yeah-but-now-it's-non-planetary dept.
Celarent Darii writes "In what looks like good news for the American Space program, NASA has restarted production of plutonium. According to the article, after the closure of Savannah Rivers reactor NASA purchased plutonium from Russia, but since 2010 this was no longer possible. The native production of plutonium is a step forward for the space program to achieve the energy density for long term space exploration."
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NASA Restarts Plutonium Production

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  • Re:1.21 Jiggawatts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by budgenator (254554) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:26AM (#43172259) Journal

    Actually non-fissile material can be used as a X-ray/gamma reflector [wikipedia.org], once thing get cooking good in the pit, the gama rays get reflected back to the secondary implode it and the excess neutrons which can transmute [wikipedia.org] some of the PU-238 into fissile PU-239, some of which is going to fission.

  • Re:Dehabitation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Friday March 15, 2013 @09:18AM (#43182157)

    Ok. Let's deal with overbroad:

    We live in an oxygen rich environment. There is oxygen everywhere. When something is left out in the open, it slowly oxidizes to some form of oxide.

    Unless you have exceptionally specific, extreme circumstances, this means something which is at it's maximum oxidation state will not burn.

    We do not live in a fluorine permeated atmosphere. We don't have accidental piles of trifluorochlorine lying around. Commercial rockets themselves are not run on reactive fluorine fuels. The failure mode of a rocket launching would be to combust in an oxygen atmosphere with liquid oxygen and kerosene fuels, or the aluminum-based solid oxide fuel.

    So again: it's not "comically overbroad", you're being pedantic. Because fluorine and specifically trifluorochlorine is literally the only way that a maximally oxidized metal compound is going to "burn".

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