After a $49.99 per kilo cargo lift to orbit…


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After a $49.99 per kilo cargo lift to orbit…

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des. 31, 2015, 9:56 pm

how much is the rest of the way to the center of the Sun by express post and what is the cheapest delivery option? What are the safety precautions to dump the 9 million bags of contaminated Fukushima that way? Is this possible or as unviable as shipping ice cubes from Mars to Earth to put in whiskey?

gen. 1, 2016, 3:57 am

Wondering where the $49.99 figure comes from?

Apart from the cost, it could get messy if there were a malfunction on the way to orbit...

gen. 1, 2016, 6:13 am

There was an Ars Technica story suggesting present price of $50,000 per kilo may drop to $50. They were joking no doubt. Nuclear material is shipped over seas. Sending that up should be manageable using human rated safe mechanism to remove the payload from the doomed rocket ship. Retrieve and relaunch. In the event of malfunction it wouldn't be worse in effect than test bombing sites and accidents.

gen. 1, 2016, 8:45 am

>3 vy0123: I hope they were joking. This wouldn't be the first time the feasibility of launch cost reduction has been overestimated, and 1970's NASA was only looking for a 10x cost reduction.

gen. 1, 2016, 11:19 am

It's actually much harder than most realize to send something into the Sun. Solar Probe Plus is using a Delta IV Heavy plus a solid rocket motor third stage and 7 Venus gravity assists to get within 4 million miles of the Sun. Launch cost for 685 kg into this orbit is a bit less than $400M (US).

You have to shed lots of angular momentum, which takes lots of energy. The only way to do it now is with big rockets. solar sail and ion propulsion systems aren't viable yet, but could be at some point in the future, I suppose.

gen. 3, 2016, 10:20 pm

I took an "environmental geology" course way back in the 1970's that focused on the disposal of nuclear waste. The prof had to run around the country burrowing in government records in order to come up with the data for the course - like number of "vitrified stainless steel canisters " {how the most highly radioactive waste was contained} that were produced each year, radioactive isotopes present & quantity, temperatures reached during decay, half lives of isotopes & estimates of how long they have to be contained etc.

>2 stellarexplorer: stellar got it right about the "malfunctions" , One of the calculations we ran though was how much damage a cask would do if released in the environment. As I remember just a couple with the contents spread about evenly could take out continent sized areas if I am not mistaken - but none the less very scary numbers. An oceanography course explained why geologic subduction zones, which should be the ultimate answer, were a no go. They take forever to "subduct" and the canisters would rupture.

All that being said I think we still have a couple of nuclear bombs near the coast of North Carolina where they were dropped by accident way back when. Last I heard the bombs are still there but way deep in mud. ;-)

Aha, found a couple of links:

gen. 4, 2016, 3:18 am

>6 DugsBooks: struck in that Wikipedia link by this description of the still-buried bomb:

"the size of each bomb was more than 250 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb, and large enough to have a 100% kill zone of seventeen miles. Each bomb would exceed the yield of all munitions (outside of testing) ever detonated in the history of the world by TNT, gunpowder, conventional bombs, and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts combined."

gen. 4, 2016, 3:59 am

>7 stellarexplorer: Is thaaat all? Ppppfffft! You should see the one I made out in the shed.

gen. 4, 2016, 6:16 am

An underground nuclear waste dump in an area called West Lake has a slow burning underground fire headed its way, perhaps reaching it in years or decades. The waste management company, New Republic, plans to shield the nuclear waste from the fire using an underground containment wall. A similar idea, an ice wall, was planned for Fukushima but last I read in the newspaper the wall wasn't working.

Editat: gen. 4, 2016, 4:27 pm

> 7 I would definitely be able to see the flash from my house, it is that close!

::edit with bombs that size several hundred miles away is close!! IMOHO::

gen. 4, 2016, 5:14 pm

>7 stellarexplorer: "large enough to have a 100% kill zone of seventeen miles"

Do you suppose they mean a zone with a radius of 17 miles, a diameter of 17 miles, or 17 square miles?

gen. 4, 2016, 9:34 pm

gen. 4, 2016, 11:06 pm

William James Perry suggested a nightmare scenario where bad actors have stashed away six nuclear weapons. Letting one off to kill 80,000 and a leader in an instant they demand ransom for the rest. A worse case is a G20 or COP21 on leaders and hangers-on.

gen. 4, 2016, 11:25 pm


What are the discounts on the price tag of that $500K per kg orbit assuming the SpaceX model scales and is reliable 100%, and is there a wider margin of safety for a first stage rocket to slowly glide down to dock in flight on a chase plane and land like the space shuttle used to?

gen. 5, 2016, 11:27 am

>14 vy0123: Is that idea of docking to a chase plane actually being proposed by anyone? I can see pilots - and insurance companies - seriously disliking such a scheme.

Remember, the space shuttle was a reusable system also - space shuttle main engines and solid rocket booster, plus the orbiter itself. Yet costs were high. Spaceflight is a hard problem.

Editat: gen. 5, 2016, 2:41 pm

>15 dukedom_enough: And the expectation for the Space Shuttle was a failure rate of (depending on who you listen to) somewhere around one flight in a hundred. Maybe you can tolerate one loss of shuttle and crew per a hundred, but what's the acceptable failure rate when carrying large quantities of nuclear waste?

Editat: gen. 6, 2016, 8:18 am

#16 A human rated safe rocket carrying nuclear waste to a no return destination is safer than the multiplicity of nuclear weapons.1979 had a 3am moment when the computers were warning of 200 nuclear missiles from Russia to USA.

#15 I forget the name but their is an Airbus partnership concept design to fly back the rocket engine without the towering fuel bottle which seems a stunted wasteful idea. A non starter.

The docking idea would have the Falcon rocket sweep out wings like a glider and keep circling safely over the ocean. A powered chase plane piloted at a safe distance like a drone mates with it in the air and the rocket goes the rest of the way back to base on piggyback like how the space shuttle took a ride on a Boeing. I don't know if this idea has been proposed. I asked about it before SpaceX nailed their first landing. The problem with that is there's no second chances and doesn't take advantage of knowing how to land a plane which has matured over 100 years.

gen. 6, 2016, 12:17 am

>17 vy0123: But no one is suggesting that pointing thousands of nuclear warheads at each other was a particularly safe or prudent thing to do either.

gen. 6, 2016, 1:13 pm

>18 stellarexplorer: Well, during the 1960s-1980s there were many influential people in the US political establishment who strongly opposed arms control deals, preferring to keep the weapons. And there still are a great many of them ready for use.

gen. 6, 2016, 1:17 pm

Interestingly, today's XKCD is on point:

Editat: gen. 6, 2016, 8:37 pm

The stock price of U.S. gun manufacturers are up six fold since 2011.

Attitudes surveyed in the 50s.

gen. 7, 2016, 1:45 am

>19 dukedom_enough: I should have been clearer. No one in this thread is arguing that it is safe and wise to point thousands of thermonuclear warheads at each other. Therefore, it's not a point that is pertinent to the comparative safety of sending nuclear waste into space. Of course you will get some people in support of the most absurd propositions. Which doesn't in itself lend them any credence.

gen. 7, 2016, 5:39 am

OK; I apologize for the unsympathetic reading.

gen. 7, 2016, 4:05 pm

No problem. Thanks for the XKCD - very on point!

Editat: gen. 19, 2016, 3:03 pm

A fully fueled up proposed SLS rocket starting not from the ground up but at 300 km up Earth orbit, how far can it go and still be able to enter a new orbit or return?

A: I guess the Kerbal Space Program can simulate an answer to that question.

gen. 20, 2016, 4:52 pm

Nice graph >25 vy0123: , I did not realize the Oort cloud was considered interstellar space.

gen. 21, 2016, 3:49 pm

#27 Apparently the Oort cloud stretches a third of the way to the nearest star. The journey takes 80 myriad years relative to the orbit of Planet 9/X which is 2 myriad years.

On the table below, accident number 30 was carrying four h-bombs when it crashed 48 years ago and 24/7 flights of nuclear weapons stopped.

gen. 23, 2016, 4:15 am

2008, 2014 were the last time nuclear weapon stuffups happened.

gen. 27, 2016, 9:49 pm

The largest galaxy we know of.

gen. 28, 2016, 11:40 am

I'd heard that, but the graphic is cool!

gen. 28, 2016, 8:34 pm

The solar system as a plate is tilted 60° from our galaxy's plane.

gen. 29, 2016, 5:12 pm

Babylon was 60 miles south from Baghdad, Iraq.

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