Waste of space? No - waste in space

Posted by uatemp13 at Oct 05, 2012 04:40 PM |
Leicester scientists involved in major project to use nuclear waste
Waste of space? No - waste in space

Space Research Centre University of Leicester

Our space scientists have been making headlines thanks to their involvement in a major international programme to use Britain’s nuclear waste to power spacecraft.

Researchers at our Space Research Centre, part of our Department of Physics and Astronomy, are working on a European Space Agency (ESA) programme in collaboration with Britain’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), Astrium UK Ltd and Systems Engineering and Assessment Ltd to develop space nuclear power systems.

The project could potentially make use of the UK’s stockpile of separated reprocessed plutonium from nuclear power reactors to enable space missions. The researchers believe the use of nuclear power could provide results which would be impossible using solar power – the primary method of powering space systems currently.

The team hope the benefits of using nuclear waste will include the potential for spacecraft to travel to distant, cold, dark and inhospitable environments which would be inaccessible to crafts relying on solar cells. It is also possible that the extended lifetime of one mission using nuclear power could provide more science value for money.

The University’s involvement in the project is being led by Dr Richard Ambrosi, Dr Hugo Williams and Dr Nigel Bannister of the Space Research Centre.

So far, coverage has appeared in the Financial Times and the Sunday Times (the article is behind a paywall).