Broadcast 1537 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

29 Mar 2011 Dave Ketchledge
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Guest: Dave Ketchledge. Topics: Nuclear power reactors, facts, radiation & issues related to the Fukushima accident, plus space nuclear propulsion. Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. We welcomed Dave Ketchledge to this special three hour program which offered a comprehensive discussion of nuclear power issues, the Fukushima accident in Japan, radiation, atmospheric dispersion of radiation, and the use of nuclear power for space transportation, particularly long duration space missions. Our program had two very long segments to it. The best way to describe this program, especially from the feedback that came in from those listening live and participating in the show was "awesome." Dave Ketchledge, with his years of experience in the nuclear navy and working for commercial nuclear power plants, took us through the basics of how nuclear power plants works, how they are cooled, what happens when things go wrong, waste issues, the safety systems in place & the regulatory world controlling such plants. Dave, being on a submarine in Scotland at the time of Chernobyl, provided us with first hand information on the Chernobyl accident, the radiation their sub detectors picked up, what it meant, what actually happened and how it happened, and what the actual results were of that accident. He then explained why what was going on at Fukushima was not a Chernobyl and why such an accident won't happen in the United States. He also talked at length about the Three Mile Island accident and he likened it to what is happening in Japan. We spent a considerable time talking about media and press reports, radiation coming over to the West Coast of the United States, taking iodine pills and all matters related to what has been reported in the media/press since this accident and the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Dave talked to us about what we have learned about radiation dispersion from the atmospheric H Bomb tests prior to the test ban treaty, plus what we know from the two bombs used in WW 2 in Japan and the one blown up at Trinity Site in New Mexico, plus some of the leakage from the underground H Bomb tests at the Nevada Test Site. Later in the program we talked about using nuclear rocket engines for space travel. We talked about the ISP values and importance of using nuclear thermal propulsion and what it would mean time wise as well as for less radiation than using a chemical rocket in a round trip to Mars. We cannot thank Dave enough for sticking with us for the full program to help us understand nuclear power and why it is important that we continue using safe nuclear power. Dave talked about the role of the regulatory agencies, specifically the NRC and the IAEA. In addition, at one point he was asked what the ordinary person was to do to be accurately informed since the media reports have been so confusing. He did recommend visiting the websites for the NRC and IAEA for their news and updates and he explained why these sources were credible. Please post any questions or comments you may have for Dave on the blog URL above. You can also email Dave Ketchledge at sketchledge@sbcglobal.net. While nuclear powered space propulsion was not the main topic of this program, what Dave had to say about it was important so do pay attention to the space discussion themes which were mixed into our overall nuclear power discussion.

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