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[deleted] t1_j5svfs0 wrote

Know first how many failed rocket launch test we humans are doing before sending a successful one. And know what will happen if a nuclear rocket explodes via accident


quartertopi t1_j5sxncw wrote

Or gets targeted by an attack. Dirty bomb for free


KillyScreams t1_j5sz9ab wrote

I still cannot believe the best method to go really fast is a bomb.

There has to be another way.


Cheapskate-DM t1_j5t09xj wrote

Realistically, if you wanted to go pure electro-mechanical, you could build a giant ramp up the side of the Rockies and chuck a plane off it.

Unfortunately, high-velocity speed bumps have the same effect regardless of whether or not rockets are involved... nobody would want to shotgun radioactive waste across the country.


KillyScreams t1_j5t0dpy wrote

Like a rail system, right? Not on a mountain but straight up

Why oh why don't people make investments like that? Space travel isnt going anywhere.


Cheapskate-DM t1_j5t0sfw wrote

Laments about stupid human bullshit aside, it's no easy engineering feat.

An aboveground version would mean miles of electrified track exposed to the elements; assuming constant acceleration, you'd quickly reach speeds where a single nick or bump would be catastrophic.

A hyperloop or shielded underground version is plausible, but that's miles of tunneling - and unless you want to roll the dice on some retractable wing business, it'd need to be a wide tunnel.

And that's not even getting into property/territory.


KillyScreams t1_j5t19rm wrote

I gotcha. It's just it's not like humanity has never had incredible engineering feats when needed.

It will be interesting to see what does eventually replace rockets.

Maybe having planes carry things into low altitude orbit and take off from there.


DistressedApple t1_j5talsj wrote

Why don’t people make investments into vertical rail? Because it’s stupid and it wouldn’t work. How would it be supported? How would it be powered efficiently, and how would many of these affect normal air travel? There are so many reasons why they’re a terrible idea and people much smarter than either of us have considered and rejected it


Hadrollo t1_j5t3ghr wrote

Not really any better ways given our current understanding of the universe, and chances are that any new way is also going to be a bomb.

Bombs and rockets work on the same principle; there's a lot of mechanical force created very quickly. In a bomb, it's either exploding all around, or there's something guiding it to where the bad people are. In a rocket, the 'splody bits point out the back to throw the rocket forward.


mindlessgames t1_j5svplp wrote

It's not actually that bad to store it and it's really bad if a rocket full of radioactive fuel fails in flight.


S1Bills t1_j5t22cn wrote

This is 100% the answer. In addition, the waste issue (for commercial plants) is manageable from an engineering perspective, the politics are the problem.


old-wise_bill t1_j5t24kg wrote

Yeah my understanding is that by the time it's removed from the plant's holding storage it is pretty well decayed. Also spent nuclear fuel and a nuclear bomb ARE NOT the same thing.


tripy75 t1_j5svw5a wrote

just take a few minutes to learn why:


dinomiah t1_j5sw2nx wrote

I came into this thread thinking "I'm pretty sure I saw a Kurzgesagt video about exactly this."


tripy75 t1_j5swnrw wrote

kurzgesagt is like xkcd. they cover a lot of things


NorCalNavyMike t1_j5tykfb wrote

I’m just happy as Hell that folks are even spelling “Kurzgesagt” correctly!! Let alone referencing the incredibly delicious, buttery goodness that is this amazing destination on YouTube.

For any of y’all that haven’t seen them before, consider today your birthday and chosen major holiday coming early this year!!



PhilGibbs7777 t1_j5sv8nr wrote

(1) It's far too expensive (2) It's far too dangerous


Utterlybored t1_j5sw73a wrote

Other than being expensive and dangerous, it’s a great idea, though.


MarcusXL t1_j5t1wtq wrote

Expensive, dangerous, impractical, and unnecessary. But otherwise, great idea.


Utterlybored t1_j5vlsud wrote

Well impractical and unnecessary because expensive and dangerous, but yeah.


Hughjarse t1_j5svws2 wrote

There's the obvious dangers of a rocket exploding and creating a nuclear disaster.

Then you have the fact that we use nuclear energy because it is clean, sending rockets to space is not. You lose any benefit you had from using it, if you just put it on a rocket burning 1400 tonnes of fuel to take 26.7 tonnes to Geostationary Transfer Orbit.


PokemonRfrnzNOTfood t1_j5sv6gs wrote

Radioactive material is sooooooo fucking heavy. Also, consider the risks.


Mountain_Fig_9253 t1_j5sws34 wrote

The main reason is that the risk of space flight doesn’t justify the marginal (if any) benefit.

According to Wikipedia there was 47,000 tons of high level radioactive waste in 2002. I’m too lazy to look up more up to date numbers. If we launched that all into space on F9 heavy rockets it would take 1,807 launches if all the mass was used for waste. That’s using 26 tons capacity to GTO. We would probably want to put the waste in a really strong container that will probably take up 25-50% of the mass needed so now we are up to about 3000 launches.

Since no rocket system is perfect we have to expect some failures. Let’s assume SpaceX gets a 99.9% reliability schedule that means we blow up 3 rockets on launch, spreading 50-75 TONS of high level radioactive waste all over the planet.

Compare that to just letting it sit there and not bother anyone. It’s far better to spend a fraction of the money of 3000 launches on building insanely strong storage areas and just leaving it alone.


Darth_Face2021 t1_j5t0hs4 wrote

Bonus points if we store it on land or underground: if reprocessing becomes cost effective we can go back and grab the waste for new fuel


MiddleAgedGrump t1_j5swzl4 wrote

I say we just tip it all into active volcanoes.


h455566hh t1_j5szrih wrote

  1. Nuclear waste is valuable. It can be recycled into more nuclear fuel.
  2. Currently no industrial work is done in space, it's too expensive. Space stations and satelites are used only for research,

FrostyAcanthocephala t1_j5sy41g wrote

Would be cheaper to reprocess it like the industry said they would.


ToriYamazaki t1_j5sx94c wrote

Because it's insanely expensive to do so.

Because it tends to get caught by gravity and come crashing back to earth.

Because rockets don't always launch perfectly.


MysticDaedra t1_j5swbjp wrote

We already don't store nuclear waste underground. Modern radioactive waste containers are extremely safe and durable.


Pretty-Ad-8860 t1_j5sye3v wrote

I'm sorry but why should we dump this planet's waste somewhere else? I'm ok shooting it into the Sun, but just sending it out in a random direction...


SteeleDuke t1_j5sw11s wrote

What about slingshotting nuclear waste into space? No rockets.


alicelric t1_j5sxyae wrote

You haven't seen that Futurama episode haven't you


MarcusXL t1_j5t2eo7 wrote

  1. Do you know how ****ing expensive it is to launch anything into space? Anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 per kilogram.
  2. It's also inherently risky. Failure rates for space-launch rockets is a few %. By those numbers, within a few decades, you'd have a rocket laden with nuclear waste explode in mid-air. No bueno.
  3. It's unnecessary. Storing nuclear waste once it has cooled down is not all that problematic.
  4. The whole point of nuclear power is to generate power, ie, as an alternative to burning fossil fuel. Taking spent nuclear fuel and burning huge amounts of fuel launching it into space is defeating the point.

Good-Spring2019 t1_j5sw7y6 wrote

Falcon heavy can only carry half of what the Saturn V could. That’s why.


Robertokavali t1_j5sx0re wrote

Because it’s too expensive. Look up Kurzgesagt on YouTube


DefenestrationPraha t1_j5sx7s5 wrote

"Reliable" in nuclear technology means something very different from "reliable" in space, not least because the failure modes are different.

If a Falcon Heavy with ordinary cargo fails, a few fish will die on impact, but otherwise the damage to the ocean and the atmosphere is not that great and lasting.

"Seeding around" tons of nuclear waste into the atmosphere and into the ocean water would be a major disaster. This stuff will circulate for decades or even thousands of years, depending on its half-time.


Interesting-Ad7020 t1_j5sxykz wrote

Uranium is one of the most heavy elements. Also if you place it in earth orbit it will be part of space trash that can hit other objects. Next problem is if you want to send it into the sun. For this you will need a lot of delta v.


Tiruvalye t1_j5sybbf wrote

We can use other processes to clean the nuclear waste now.


BWright79 t1_j5szyag wrote

The United States creates munitions from spent nuclear rods and our military uses it overseas. It’s much cheaper than shooting it into space!


atwegotsidetrekked t1_j5t31re wrote

They stopped doing that because of gulf war syndrome


BWright79 t1_j5vde8s wrote

> munitions from spent nuclear rods

Where did you read that? I'm fairly certain that depleted uranium is still used to make bullets and mortar shells.


BWright79 t1_j5wr38l wrote

Thanks, that's good news. Before I responded earlier I was seeing articles as recent as 2022 saying we did this. Granted this article is also from 2022... in my head though I can't help but think how we still use soviet era munitions and even though production as stopped... we are probably still using them.


NameUnavail t1_j5t0nan wrote

Because as unlikely as a failure is, the consequences of one would be horrendous. If it failed at high altitude it would be far worse than fukushima or tschernobyl, it's simply not worth the risk


Martinus_XIV t1_j5t0xii wrote

Would you rather have a drum of nuclear waste sitting in a bunker somewhere deep underground, isolated by layers upon layers of radiation-absorbing material, or floating above your head like a nuclear sword of damocles?


Shade-5 t1_j5t28v9 wrote

Might be seen as aggression by other countries and hard to ignore. It will basically be an ICBM armed with nucleaer Waste.


aasteveo t1_j5t2bfp wrote

Cuz there isn't much of it and it's incredibly cheaper and easier and safer to just bury it in the ground on site.


" Little waste is generated. Nuclear fuel is very energy dense, so very little of it is required to produce immense amounts of electricity – especially when compared to other energy sources. As a result, a correspondingly small amount of waste is produced. On average, the waste from a reactor supplying a person’s electricity needs for a year would be about the size of a brick. Only 5 grams of this is high-level waste – about the same weight as a sheet of paper. "


MsGorteck t1_j5t2fzb wrote

Most of my life I have thought this myself. I did not know that it was extremely heavy. The dirty bomb part I knew in my late 20's. That part became even more obvious after 9/11 and went down a rabbit hole of the USSR nucking on of their own villages/towns to have a war game. I mean seriously, if we sent all of our nuclear waste to the sun it would add a whole .000000135 seconds to the life of the sun. Now I just learned, reading the responses to this query, about delta V, whatever the hell that is, is an issue.


space-ModTeam t1_j5t2pn9 wrote

Hello u/William0fBaskerville, your submission "Hey, can someone explain to me why we are not stending nuclear waste into space having a reliable rocket that can carry a decent amounts of cargo? I'm thinking about Falcon Heavy. One start a year would mean that US doesn't need to store anymore waste underground." has been removed from r/space because:

  • Such questions should be asked in the "All space questions" thread stickied at the top of the sub.

Please read the rules in the sidebar and check r/space for duplicate submissions before posting. If you have any questions about this removal please message the r/space moderators. Thank you.


Claque-2 t1_j5t2wue wrote

That's the thing about gravity, it keeps pulling you back!


XYZZY_1002 t1_j5t8qpq wrote

There probably isn’t as much nuclear waste as you think. Here’s what Google says: The U.S. generates about 2,000 metric tons of spent fuel each year. This number may sound like a lot, but the volume of the spent fuel assemblies is actually quite small considering the amount of energy they produce. The amount is roughly equivalent to less than half the volume of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.


FerrowFarm t1_j5tcodw wrote

I imagine the question is not "where would we store the waste?" but rather "Where would we build the plants?" Most people have a NIMBY feeling toward nuclear, despite it being the greenest and most efficient fuel to date.


dropbear23 t1_j5sw61j wrote

Not only that, but having nuclear waste floating around in earth's orbit could be pretty shit. Because getting it out of earth's orbit would be horrendously expensive.


FrankieFiveAngels t1_j5sw65t wrote

As everyone else is mentioning, rockets tend to explode when they don't work correctly, which is more often than you think.

A space elevator would be ideal to expel waste (or anything) off the planet safely.


ToriYamazaki t1_j5sx3x4 wrote

Not true. Once it's in space... what then? Guess what? It floats around, gets caught by gravity and falls back to earth.


dnina_kore t1_j5sz7b5 wrote

Attach engines to the container and send it to sun


oMaddiganGames t1_j5szl5l wrote

Going to the sun is very difficult. Escaping the solar system or dropping it into Jupiter would be easier


Even_Ad_8286 t1_j5t4hyd wrote

As we develop and discover new materials that are lighter and stronger a space elevator may be an option.

You can then build mammoth ships in space as the cost per Kg to get materials into space would drop from thousands of dollars to hundreds, and build ships like the Borg.