(Original Image from NASA)

Editor’s note: Last weeks Carnival of [the] Space [Geeks] (hosted by Music of the Spheres) covered various topics ranging from the Galaxy Zoo to general astronomy.

Several notable highlights of this carnival focused upon human exploration in or beyond our solar system with posts from:

  • Paul Gilster of Centauri Dreams discusses the possibility of using multi-generational worldships to conquer other star systems.
  • James of Surfin’ English discusses space pirates, as well as outlining some strategies to fight them in the future.
  • Louise RioFrio of A Babe in the Universe gives thoughts on Charon’s new geysers, and how tiny black holes could be heating up the moon.
  • Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society’s Weblog writes about how the upcoming Phoenix mission could contaminate the soil its suppose to analyze.
  • The Anonymous author of Space Files has some interesting images regarding NASA’s space simulator which helps us test whether or not our solar toys are ready for cosmic prime time.

But the most interesting post by far was from Brian Wang of Advanced Nanotechnology, who wrote about how nuclear rockets would be a better alternative to traveling off world than their chemical cousins.

(Advanced Nanotechnology) Nuclear rockets can have 2 to 200 times the performance of chemical rockets. They are a technology that we only need the will to develop. The science is solid and straight forward. We just have to have the courage to become a truly interplanetary civilization. This article will review the various pulsed plasma (using nuclear bombs for propulsion) proposals and have a bit of review of the nuclear thermal rockets at the end. Modern materials will allow smaller nuclear rockets to be produced which could be deployed in space by chemical launch systems. Also, there is uranium and thorium on the moon, so lunar materials could be mined and processed and these nuclear rockets could be made almost entirely from lunar material.

For those nervous about having nuclear rockets launching everywhere from space hungry nations, there have already been several proposals for having these vehicles initially launch via chemical rockets first, before switching over to nuclear thrust.

Here is a video below demonstrating how a “nuclear rocket” could enable humanity to not only escape Earth’s gravity, but also reach Mars.

(Video: Animation depicting a 4000 ton ‘Orion’ type nuclear pulse rocket on a manned mission to Mars. Credit: Nuclear Space)

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