Also, what are the possible obstacles of doing that?
At a bare minimum, there are at least four obstacles:
- We can't do it.
- It would cost too much even if we could do it technically.
- It would be too risky even if we could do it technically and financially.
- We just don't want to do it.
We can't do it.
The nuclear industry generates 2000 to 2300 metric tons of waste in the form of spend fuel per year (Source: Nuclear Energy Institute). We certainly don't want to put that waste into low Earth orbit. At a minimum, we need to trash the Moon with that waste. (Anything else will cost even more.)
I'll take the Falcon Heavy as a baseline. It will be able to put 13,200 pounds of payload into a translunar injection orbit. At a minimum, that means 384 Falcon Heavy launches per year. Note very well: That bare minimum means stacking the waste, unprotected, on top of the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. That is unrealistic for a number of reasons. Being completely unrealistic and assuming that there's only one pound of encapsulating material per pound of waste, that means over two launches per day, every day of the year, just to keep up with the current production rate of nuclear waste.
To make matters worse, that 2000-2300 metric tons per year is the tip of the iceberg. Per that same source, we have accumulated almost 70,000 metric tons of used fuel. There's also contaminated water, contaminated housing equipment, contaminated control rods; etc. There's a whole lot of stockpiled nuclear waste. There's no way to get rid of it in space.
It would cost too much if we could do it.
Using my ridiculously optimistic factor of one pound of encapsulating material per pound of waste, getting rid of that 70,000 metric tons of used fuel would mean a cost of almost 2 trillion dollars. That number is ridiculously optimistic. Plug in any realistic number and the resulting cost will make the war on terror look like small potatoes.
It would be too risky even if we could do it technically and financially.
My factor of factor of one pound of encapsulating material per pound of waste is ridiculously optimistic. Look what NASA has to do for the radioisotope thermoelectric generator it uses for deep space probes. Those RTGs are built like tanks, to the nth degree. Rather than my one to one factor, a more realistic factor would be tens to one, or more. That would make the war on terror look like seed potatoes rather than small potatoes.
On the bright side (pun intended), if there was a mishap that caused one of those multiple launches per day to crash on the banks in Bermuda, it would give a brand new meaning to money burning a hole in ones wallet.
We just don't want to do it.
The ability to have multiple launches per day is every space fanatic's dream. Wasting that fantastic capability on launching waste into space? That's every space fanatic's nightmare.