-2
$\begingroup$

If rockets are reliable, can we throw our nuclear wastes towards the sun? The sun's gravity and it's internal energy will do the rest.

$\endgroup$
8
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Your question is based on a conceptual error. It's enormously expensive in terms of delta-v to send anything to the sun. space.stackexchange.com/q/38604/6944 See also space.stackexchange.com/q/4173/6944 $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Sep 9 '20 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ "Let the sun's gravity do the rest"- will drift slowly towards the sun. It's expensive and dangerous to store used nuclear waste materials $\endgroup$ – seccpur Sep 9 '20 at 12:56
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ It doesn't work that way. Read the linked questions. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Sep 9 '20 at 12:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Starting from a circular orbit of radius $R$ around a body of radius $r$, it always costs more delta-v to deorbit than to run up to escape velocity if $R > (2\sqrt{2}+2)r$ $\endgroup$ – notovny Sep 9 '20 at 14:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @seccpur Ignoring extremely long-term tidal interactions,, Earth's rotational energy has nothing to do with the stability of its orbit around the Sun; If the Earth stopped rotating right now, it would still be orbiting the Sun billions of years from now when the Sun's dying stages start becoming issues. $\endgroup$ – notovny Sep 9 '20 at 14:45
3
$\begingroup$

Could we? Yes. Should we? Absolutely not! Why?

  1. The energy required to send something to the Sun is REALLY high. Like, we can't even really send any payload there at all. Before doing that, crashing it in to the Moon would be just as good and keep it secure. Or Venus, if we wanted to send it to somewhere we probably won't ever get to.
  2. Rocket launches don't have a 100% success rate. If the rocket exploded, well, there's a radioactive wasteland, which is WAY worse than the problem that we have now.
  3. Radioactive material might some day be useful on Earth. Most of the problems with disposing of it are assuming that we might want to get access to it sometime in the next few hundred years, but not after.

Really there is actual useful energy left in nuclear waste, but launching in in to space is WAY too risky.

$\endgroup$
3
  • $\begingroup$ If "we can't even really send any payload there at all" why do you say we could in the first sentence? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Sep 9 '20 at 16:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I'm guessing with careful trajectory planning, gravity assists from Earth and Venus could be used for a spacecraft to crash into the Sun. But energy-wise, no rocket has the delta-v to slow down 30 km/s. $\endgroup$ – Star Man Sep 9 '20 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly. Even sending PSP to close to the Sun involved a number of flybys of Venus, and even then won't touch the star. I'm sure theoretically we could bring a small payload, but that doesn't really help the problem much. $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Sep 9 '20 at 16:45

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.