The feasibility of retrieving nuclear heat sources from orbit with the space shuttle

PDF Version Also Available for Download.

Description

Spacecraft launched for orbital missions have a finite orbital lifetime. Current estimates for the lifetime of the nine nuclear powered U.S. satellites now in orbit range from 150 years to 10{sup 6} years. Orbital lifetime is determined primarily by altitude, solar activity, and the satellite ballistic coefficient. There is also the potential of collision with other satellites or space debris, which would reduce the lifetime in orbit. These orbiting power sources contain primarily Pu-238 and Pu-239 as the fuel material. Pu-238 has an approximate 87-year half life and so considerable amounts of daughter products are present after a few tens ... continued below

Physical Description

37 p.

Creation Information

Pyatt, D.W. & Englehart, R.W. January 1, 1980.

Context

This report is part of the collection entitled: Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports and was provided by UNT Libraries Government Documents Department to Digital Library, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. More information about this report can be viewed below.

Who

People and organizations associated with either the creation of this report or its content.

Sponsor

Publisher

Provided By

UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Serving as both a federal and a state depository library, the UNT Libraries Government Documents Department maintains millions of items in a variety of formats. The department is a member of the FDLP Content Partnerships Program and an Affiliated Archive of the National Archives.

Contact Us

What

Descriptive information to help identify this report. Follow the links below to find similar items on the Digital Library.

Description

Spacecraft launched for orbital missions have a finite orbital lifetime. Current estimates for the lifetime of the nine nuclear powered U.S. satellites now in orbit range from 150 years to 10{sup 6} years. Orbital lifetime is determined primarily by altitude, solar activity, and the satellite ballistic coefficient. There is also the potential of collision with other satellites or space debris, which would reduce the lifetime in orbit. These orbiting power sources contain primarily Pu-238 and Pu-239 as the fuel material. Pu-238 has an approximate 87-year half life and so considerable amounts of daughter products are present after a few tens of years. In addition, there are minor but possibly significant amounts of impurity isotopes present with their own decay chains. Radioisotopic heat sources have been designed to evolving criteria since the first launches. Early models were designed to burn up upon reentry. Later designs were designed to reenter intact. After tens or hundreds of years in orbit, the ability of any orbiting heat source to reenter intact and impact while maintaining containment integrity is in doubt. Such ability could only be verified by design to provide protection in the case of early mission failures such as launch aborts, failure to achieve orbit, or the attainment of only a short orbit. With the development of the Space Shuttle there exists the potential ability to recover heat sources in orbit after their missions are completed. Such retrieval could allow the risk of eventual reentry burnup or impact with atmospheric dispersion and subsequent radiation doses to the public to be avoided.

Physical Description

37 p.

Notes

OSTI as DE98004016

Source

  • Other Information: PBD: Jan 1980

Language

Item Type

Identifier

Unique identifying numbers for this report in the Digital Library or other systems.

  • Other: DE98004016
  • Report No.: NUS--3495
  • DOI: 10.2172/572693 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 572693
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc698130

Collections

This report is part of the following collection of related materials.

Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

What responsibilities do I have when using this report?

When

Dates and time periods associated with this report.

Creation Date

  • January 1, 1980

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Aug. 14, 2015, 8:43 a.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Dec. 11, 2015, 4:32 p.m.

Usage Statistics

When was this report last used?

Yesterday: 0
Past 30 days: 0
Total Uses: 3

Interact With This Report

Here are some suggestions for what to do next.

Start Reading

PDF Version Also Available for Download.

Citations, Rights, Re-Use

Pyatt, D.W. & Englehart, R.W. The feasibility of retrieving nuclear heat sources from orbit with the space shuttle, report, January 1, 1980; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc698130/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.