28 January 2003
Mars Society Steering Committee Issues Resolution Supporting Space Nuclear Power


While fusion will eventually power this world, Mars and beyond, the next phase of manned planetary exploration will require nuclear technologies of various kinds.

The Steering Committee of the Mars society today issued a resolution supporting the revival of NASA's space nuclear power program. The resolution was approved by a vote of 20 in favor, 1 opposed, 1 abstention, and 7 not voting. The text of the resolution is given below.

The decision by NASA to revive its space nuclear development program is a very positive step that will greatly enhance the prospects for human exploration and settlement of the solar system.

The Mars Society applauds any effort to proceed with technology development that supports human exploration of Mars. Using nuclear thermal rockets allows the payload delivered from LEO to the Moon or Mars to be substantially increased, thereby cutting the launch costs associated with lunar or Mars exploration programs.

Nuclear power reactors are needed for long duration operation of a Mars base, where they could provide the power for reliable life support, ultra-high data rate communications, and the in-situ production of ascent and return propellants, thereby increasing mission science return and cutting launch costs even more.

Beyond Mars, unmanned probes using nuclear power for high specific impulse electric propulsion, active sensing, and high data rate communication could increase mission science return enormously compared to that possible with today's technology.

While public concern about the risks involved in launching nuclear power sources is appropriate, we believe that nuclear power can be launched and operated in space without posing a safety or environmental risk to Earth.

Launch of a fission reactor which has not yet been started presents no radiation hazard to Earth because, prior to reactor start, no radionuclides have been produced and so radioactivity is negligible

Administrator O'Keefe's decision to develop space nuclear power is a wise move that will greatly expand our space capabilities and prove cost-effective. The name "Project Prometheus" is well taken.

Prometheus gave fire to man, giving us the power needed to create civilization on Earth. NASA's Project Prometheus will give us the power we need to extend human civilization to the heavens.

The Mars Society endorses this program and promises to support it energetically in every way we can. We urge all others interested in furthering humanity's prospects in space to do likewise.


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