"Space Nuclear Power & Propulsion"


Joseph A Sholtis Jr, LtCol,USAF(Ret)

Sholtis Engineering & Safety Consulting
AIAA LA-LV e-Town Hall Meeting
May 22, 2021
10 AM PDT (Pacific Daylight Time)(US & Canada)
This presentation will address, using figures, photos & videos, the notable 60-year history of the development & use of nuclear systems for power, heating, and propulsion in space -- principally by the U.S., but also briefly by the former Soviet Union & Russia. U.S. space nuclear systems, as well as nuclear-powered/heated space missions flown, will be illustrated & described, along with major discoveries gleened; and future nuclear systems, along with their potential space applications, will be briefly depicted and addressed.
Joseph A. Sholtis, Jr., LtCol, USAF (Ret)
Colonel Sholtis is the Owner & Chief Engineer of Sholtis Engineering & Safety Consulting, providing expert nuclear, aerospace & systems engineering consulting services to government, national laboratories, academia, and private industry since 1993, He founded his company immediately upon retiring from the Air Force after a distinguished 23-year military career. Colonel Sholtis has broad technical & programmatic experience in all life-cycle aspects of advanced nuclear energy technologies & systems for space, missile & unique terrestrial applications. Forty years of his 50-year career to date have involved space nuclear power & propulsion technologies, systems, programs & missions. He is internationally recognized as an expert in space nuclear systems, their safety & reliability, and assessment of the risks associated with their validation testing, launch & in-space use. He also has extensive experience in program & technical project management, to include serving as Program Manager of the $700M joint DoD/DOE/NASA SP-100 space reactor power system development effort at DOE HQ for the Strategic Defense Initiative, as well as leading, conducting & assessing numerous studies, analyses, evaluations & reports, and presenting the results to middle & top management within DoD, NASA, DOE, NRC, EPA, the National Academies, the Administration (White House), Congress & the United Nations. He has been Involved in every U.S. space nuclear system development since 1974, and every U.S. nuclear-powered or heated space mission launched since 1975 -- a total of 15 missions: Viking I & II, Lincoln Experimental Satellites 8 & 9, Voyager I & II, Galileo, Ulysses, Mars Pathfinder "Sojourner" rover, Cassini, Mars Exploration Rovers A & B "Spirit" & "Opportunity" rovers, New Horizons-Pluto, Mars Science Laboratory "Curiosity" rover & the Mars 2020 "Perseverance" rover. Currently, he is supporting the advancement of radioisotope and fission power systems for future space use; including conceptual design options for a new radioisotope heat source using Pu-238 oxide microsphere particle fuel, for a Jet Propulsion Laboratory cryobot concept (to penetrate the ice sheets of Europa or Enceladus, and explore their liquid oceans beneath in the future). He recently completed participation in a 1-year National Academies' Committee study of 'Space Nuclear Propulsion Technologies' for NASA cargo missions and a first crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s. He is a former NRC-licensed Senior Reactor Operator; Reactor Facility Director; Director of the USAF Nuclear Regulatory Authority; and an inventor, who conceived of and advanced Pu-238 oxide coated particle fuel & fuel forms, to improve the design, integration, performance & safety of future radioisotope heat sources & power systems for space and remote terrestrial applications. He received a BS in Nuclear Engineering from Penn State in 1970, an MS in Nuclear Engineering from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 1977, and completed PhD coursework in Nuclear Engineering, also from UNM, in 1980. He also holds Graduate Certificates in Systems Safety, System Safety Management, Systems Engineering, and Program Management from various institutions. He has received numerous awards from the White House, USAF, DOE, NASA, Sandia National Laboratories, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is a biographee in several Who's Who publications, including Who's Who in America. He is an Associate Fellow of AIAA, a member of the AIAA Aerospace Power Systems Technical Committee & the Albuquerque Section of AIAA. For more info, including his Resumé & List of 120+ Publications, go to: www.sites.google.com/site/SholtisEngineering

Disclaimer: The views of the speakers do not represent the views of AIAA or the AIAA Los Angeles-Las Vegas Section.
Dr. Ken Lui
Events/Program Chair, LA
AIAA Los Angeles - Las Vegas Section
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