By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Photo: Dave Bell, Wyoming Mountain Photography
Although the conversation over the last few months here in Wyoming has focused on the new nuclear reactor scheduled to come to the Cowboy State in a few years, don’t be surprised if the next location discussed will be the moon.
Sure, it may sound like something out of a science fiction film, but Wyoming nuclear energy expert David Miller thinks it is a logical next step for the nation to take.
Last week, NASA announced that it was seeking proposals for a fission surface power system on the moon, as its scientists are looking to establish a sun-independent power source for missions to the moon by the end of the decade, according to ABC News.
“I don’t know what else you would use, because while solar panels could work, there are long periods of time where particular areas of the moon aren’t exposed to sunlight,” Miller said. “If there’s going to be a manned moon base, I would much rather have a nuclear power plant keeping me warm and helping me do whatever I need to do.”
The proposed reactor would be built on Earth and then sent to the moon. If successful in supporting a sustained human presence on the moon, the next objective would be Mars.
Miller did note that an accident involving solar panels would also be more likely on the moon than an accident involving a nuclear power plant.
“It makes sense for us to associate ‘nuclear’ with ‘bomb’ since the 1950s as it did to associate ‘electric’ with ‘chair’ 100 years ago,” he said. “It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt in my mind that nuclear is the only way forward from this point. In my opinion, coal has a lot more issues and kills far more people than nuclear ever thought about killing.”
He added that using nuclear energy in space travel is nothing new, as nuclear isotopes were used to power the Voyager probes and others like it that were sent to travel the solar system. It is impossible to send out more fuel for an expedition like that, so nuclear energy is the best choice, he said.