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If You Don't Like Nukes on the Moon

Mike Griffin has been calling for using nuclear power for Earth's rocky Moon exploration rather than Jupiter's Icy Moon exploration. Anti-nuclear activists should propose a cost-effective non-nuclear alternative.

Here's an old idea for lunar nighttime power worthy of rediscovery: laser illumination of solar cells from Earth.

Posted by Sam Dinkin at July 06, 2005 08:35 PM
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The lasers would also be quite useful for adjusting the output of al Jazeera's satellites, most of them could be tuned to the proper rate of terror-symp broadcasting with a gigawatt or less of pulsed power.

Posted by Norden at July 6, 2005 10:12 PM

perhaps 1.21 gigawatts???

Posted by Astrosmith at July 6, 2005 10:51 PM

But that would take a bolt of lightning!

Posted by Doc Brown at July 6, 2005 11:09 PM

Not that there'd be a chance of the solution causing problems as well. Case in point: wind farms killing birds.

My favorite quote from the article: "Incredible numbers of raptors are being killed there, and it's hard to believe it's not having effects on the populations."

Posted by Tom Hill at July 7, 2005 04:43 AM

I talked to Geoffrey about this at Duckon (a Chicago area SF convention where he was a GoH) last month. He's not pushing for this idea at this time (actually, he's going off to MIT for at least a year as a visiting professor.)

Posted by Paul Dietz at July 7, 2005 05:09 AM

Given that they claim to oppose nuclear power in space because (among other things) of its supposed ulterior motive as power source for high-energy weapons, it's hard to imagine the luddites embracing as an alternative something that looks a lot like the kind of energy weapon they are worried about space nuclear power powering.

Which explains why the suggestion has such an impish appeal. Heh.

Posted by T.L. James at July 7, 2005 06:57 AM

Illumination from Earth ? Why not from Lunar orbit or GEO perhaps ? Why not test a prototype SPS on moon first ?
Should be easier than on earth, no atmosphere to worry about so you can use lasers/solar panels instead of microwave, also no public fear of frikkin laser beams from space to worry about and no environmental concerns.

Posted by kert at July 8, 2005 01:48 AM

Kert: the laser beams shoot toward space. They draw power from the electricity grid which is about $200 million cheaper than a satellite launch seeing as a satellite cost $200 million. There isn't much atmosphere (or birds) to speak of above the clouds. Set up near observatory sites. To power one Dell XPS for the 354 hour lunar night requires 240 lithium batteries that weigh in at 240 lbs. That would require about $720,000 to deliver to the Moon if Musk can acheive $500/lb to LEO by 2010. We can either spend $10,000 per gram to get plutonium for RTGs or we can shoot the power from Earth.

Posted by Sam Dinkin at July 8, 2005 03:22 AM

Well, realistically, the anti-nuke activists could question why we should send people to the moon at all. They don't necessarily have to suggest alternatives.

Posted by X at July 8, 2005 03:37 AM

If people actually go to the Moon, anti-nukes will not have sufficiently engaged to get their way about their not being nukes. It seems like a losing strategy to hold out for no nothing on the Moon.

Posted by Sam Dinkin at July 9, 2005 05:38 PM

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