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Thread: NuScale's Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Passes Biggest Hurdle Yet

  1. #1

    Default NuScale's Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Passes Biggest Hurdle Yet

    NuScale Power is on track to build the first small modular nuclear reactor in America faster than expected.
    Two weeks ago, NuScale’s small modular nuclear reactor design completed the Phase 1 review of its design certification application (DCA) by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. That’s a huge deal because Phase 1 is the most intensive phase of the review, taking more hours and effort than the remaining five phases combined.
    The NRC’s review of NuScale’s DCA only began in March 2017 and the NRC’s final report approving the design is expected to be complete by September 2020. NuScale is the first and only SMR to ever undergo an NRC review. After sailing through Phase 1 so quickly, the company really is on track to build the first SMR in America within the next few years.
    The first customer is certainly ready. Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) will own the first NuScale plant, a 12-module SMR, and place it at the Idaho National Laboratory. It will be operated by the experienced nuclear operator Energy Northwest. This first application will take advantage of the SMR’s specific ability to completely load-follow UAMPS wind farms.

    ‘We are thankful for the rigorous review of our revolutionary nuclear design and greatly appreciate the government recognizing the importance of furthering NuScale’s advancement,’ said NuScale Power Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Hopkins. ‘Our technology means significant economic and job benefits for the country and it’s positioned to revitalize the domestic nuclear industry by virtue of NuScale’s affordable, flexible, and safe solution to providing zero-carbon energy.’
    NuScale’s reactor is also America’s best chance to compete in the global SMR market as it gets started, and puts the U.S. on a path to beat foreign competitors like Argentina, China, Russia and South Korea who are developing their own SMR designs. Conservative estimates predict between 55 and 75 GW of electricity will come from operating SMRs around the world by 2035, the equivalent of more than 1,000 NuScale Power Modules, and will bring the market up towards a trillion dollars.

    More at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesco.../#4965c06a5bb5
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

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    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment



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  3. #2

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    Given America's tendency for warmongering, this is a dangerous development.

    Perhaps an international coalition ought to sanction the rogue state.

  4. #3

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    The unit is expected to produce only 50 megawatts of power. One rough estimate is that one megawatt is enough to power 100 homes http://theleonardsteinbergteam.com/h...-new-york-use/ so you would need one unit for every 5000 homes. New York city for example would require 220 such units to power the entire city (same link).

    Costs will also be an issue. Can it compete with other sources?

    https://www.greentechmedia.com/artic...ing#gs.zS_Jtkk

    And, critically, it will have to be competitive with other generation sources being built eight years from now. Nabizad said that the estimated overnight cost for the UAMPS project was $2.9 billion, and its target levelized cost of energy was $65 per megawatt-hour.

    For comparison, the International Renewable Energy Agency predicts that by 2020, more than half a decade ahead of the UAMPS project going live, onshore wind will be hitting an LCOE of $50 per megawatt-hour and solar will be at $60 per megawatt-hour.
    While the NRC’s experience with NuScale is expected to streamline the permitting of other SMR designs, it will be at least a decade until U.S. SMRs start hitting the ground in any meaningful numbers. Meanwhile, Russians and Chinese are building SMRs today.

    Everett Redmond, senior technical advisor for new reactor and advanced technology at the Nuclear Energy Institute, outlined the scale of the problem at a roundtable discussion for reporters last month.


    “China is bringing online, this year, high-temperature gas pebble bed reactors, commercial ones,” he said. “By the time the United States has a high-temperature gas pebble bed reactor operating, the Chinese will have 10 years of operating experience behind them.”

    https://www.greentechmedia.com/artic...ing#gs.zS_Jtkk
    Quote Originally Posted by NorthCarolinaLiberty View Post

    Half the crap I write here is just to entertain myself.
    I am Zippy and I approve of this post. But you don't have to.

  5. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    The unit is expected to produce only 50 megawatts of power. One rough estimate is that one megawatt is enough to power 100 homes http://theleonardsteinbergteam.com/h...-new-york-use/ so you would need one unit for every 5000 homes. New York city for example would require 220 such units to power the entire city (same link).

    Costs will also be an issue. Can it compete with other sources?
    The numbers are wrong. If you look at your electricity bill you will notice your average electricity usage is below 1kW (or 24kWh/day) so not 100 homes but 1000 homes per 1MW. A single unit could power 50,000 homes and New York would need not 220 but 22 units (or 40 to provide enough redundancy and capacity for spikes in usage)
    What is the punishment for the attempted murder of freedom on earth? 👁👁

  6. #5

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    A nuclear physicist told me about this company's work about a year ago. It's exciting. Great stuff. Very small nuclear reactors is exactly what the market needs and wants. Back in the 1950s when everyone was excited about nuclear power, it was because we thought that meant nuclear cars and such. Empowering technology at a small, human scale, not enormous behemoth plants like Three Mile Island. Small is much safer, too.

    Thanks for posting this here, Swordsmyth, and helping making RPFs aware of the good work NuScale's doing.

    Of course, 3Poh and Juano are in with negative comments I knew would be negative before even reading them. Kind of funny; kind of sad.

  7. #6

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    Also, today's the perfect day to post in this thread! Name this book! Anyone?


    16 May

    The man with one arm knew the value of wealth. Wealth consisted not of the number of dollars one possessed, but of the quality of life one wrested from the universe. Larry Durelle lived a life of extremely high quality.

    Wealth allowed him the means to engineer a right arm and hand that looked real and responded to his will as would a limb of flesh and blood. Wealth paid for the artificial intelligence and fuzzy logic computer imbedded inside the device, which interpreted and acted upon the slightest electrical commands of the muscles in the three-inch stump protruding from his shoulder. Wealth bought the Beech Starship airplane that he piloted down toward the runway beside his mansion. Wealth purchased the sophisticated avionics that guided the plane to the touchdown point almost without Larry's assistance.

    Wealth served as a tool and -- in using it -- Laurence Newman Durelle was a master craftsman.

    His face looked as though it had been sanded from finest teak. His tanned skin lacked the leathery quality of other sun-worshippers in their mid-forties, since he could afford the treatments to fend off damage from solar radiation. He understood radiation, perhaps better than many physicists. Radiation was his business. Larry Durelle owned American Atomic, and owned it with a possessive passion most men reserved for a woman.

    Despite its quaintly archaic name, American Atomic grew into the world's largest manufacturer of portable nuclear power under Durelle's ownership. He built it from the economic ruins of a failing nuclear submarine facility a mere four years after returning from the war in Indochina.

    Having ditched his useless A-6 Intruder in the fouled waters of the Tônlé Sab, he killed his way to Pnomh Penh and down the Mekong River, and walked out of Cambodia in five days. He dragged into Chauphu with a gangrenous arm only to learn that Saigon was in the process of being abandoned to the armies of North Vietnam. He escaped -- barely -- onboard a fishing boat that navigated out of the Delta to deliver him to the USS Forrestal. He fought his way up the corporate monkey bars with equally single-minded, single-handed tenacity.

    The war memory recurred while flying, especially during landings at home. His private oasis lay on the northern shore of the Salton Sea -- two hundred thirty-five feet below sea level in the deserts of Southern California -- sandwiched between the Kane Military Operations Area and the transition area to the airport at Thermal. On approach to his own runway, Durelle passed over the northern quarter of the inland sea. He suppressed the sudden flash of memory about his controlled crash into Tônlé Sab not because he feared his past, but only because he refused to let the past affect the present.

    Durelle touched the Starship down to the pavement with easy grace and taxied it to the hangar. Only then did he turn to the woman in the co-pilot's seat and smile.

    "Cheated death again," he said.

    "Don't get cocky, kid," Chemar D'Asaro said, her eyes merry, the dark, smooth flesh of her face beginning to glisten in the desert heat. Her eyes provided the most striking feature of her stunning beauty. In startling contrast to her deep mahogany skin, their irises were twin pools of gold flake stirred by hidden breezes. Men -- upon first encountering her -- often gazed into those eyes as if hypnotized. They stared like guileless children, ignoring all the lovely curves that in other women would be the focii of attention. Her eyes commanded notice whether they glared with anger or scintillated with joy. Larry Durelle first met those golden eyes when Chemar served as a helicopter pilot in the Antilles. He watched the way they glowed with intense concentration as she skillfully jockeyed a rickety Sikorsky SkyCrane over a sunken shipment of plutonium pellets he sought to recover. He hired her on the spot to be his personal co-pilot and trouble shooter. She had never disappointed him.

    Together, they powered down the Beech and stepped out of the hot, heavy shoreline air into the relative cool of the hangar. Inside, amid the smells of avgas, jet fuel, and oil, stood two other aircraft. One, a glistening silver DC-3, the other a cherry-red Stearman, tricked out for ærobatics. Both planes -- and the Starship -- displayed immaculate maintenance.

    They climbed down the Starship's steps, flight satchels in hand, to face a half-dozen men in three-piece suits.

    "Ah," Durelle muttered with a grin. "My bloodsucking lawyers."

    D'Asaro said nothing. Durelle slapped on his warmest smile of greeting.

    "Gentlemen!" He spread sincerity like cream cheese. "To what do I owe this charming invasion of privacy?"

    A man near the middle, who looked as if the desert air had triggered a severe sinus attack, spoke through intermittent near-sneezes. "It's the press, Mr. Durelle. They're on the warpath about the leaked report."

    Durelle locked down the Beech and walked around it slowly, giving it the careful post-flight inspection it richly merited. "It's a slow news day. They'd grill Mary about the sheep-at-school scandal if they could."

    "What do we tell them?"

    D'Asaro spoke up in the lush French accent of her native Martinique. "Tell them that backyard nukes are safe and feasible as a way to disconnect homes from the electrical grid, then ask them why they are serving as unpaid hatchet men for the energy oligopolies."

    The man glowered and turned again toward Durelle, who merely hooked his thumb at her and grinned. "What she said." He hefted his black saddle-leather flight satchel and strode with D'Asaro toward the hangar office.

    "You can't shrug off public opinion like that, Mr. Durelle! It only makes things worse."

    Durelle opened the office door and tossed the airplane's keys to the gorilla sitting in an easy chair enjoying a cup of coffee. The short and muscular brute wore a perpetual expression of wry mockery that curled his freckled lips into a near-permanent sneer. The freckles continued across his face up under his shock of curly red hair, stained with wheel grease and jet soot. He caught the keys easily and shifted from his chair into an erect posture. "Turnaround time, boss?" he asked.

    "I'll be here a couple of days, Monk."

    Monk Patterson sneered happily and left the air-conditioned confines of the office for the supreme joy of running maintenance on the Starship, his personal favorite of the three aircraft Durelle hangared at Salton Sea.

    Durelle turned his attention back to his associates.

    "Public opinion is not what the papers print. That's just their attempt to impose their agenda on the public. I'm closer to the public opinion -- if there is such a thing -- than they are."

    "Nobody wants a nuclear power plant in their backyard," an older man with peppery hair said. "The last thirty years proves that."

    "All it proves," Durelle said, "is that nobody wants a huge tax-subsidized, zero-liability nuclear utility sucking them dry. Most people prefer independence. Why do people drive cars when they can take buses? Because they oppose transportation? No. Because they prefer to own their own vehicles. Why do people have guns in their homes when they have the police to protect them? Because they want to control the means of their immediate defense. Why do people buy washing machines when laundromats are plentiful? Why buy homes when barracks would be more economical?"

    He flopped down in the same chair vacated by Monk and leaned back; Chemar snorted and leaned against the steel desk and picked up that morning's Desert Tribune.

    "Gentlemen," Durelle continued. "You show me anything -- anything -- that's provided now by a centralized distribution network and I'll show you something that people would prefer owning and controlling themselves. Look at how the telephone destroyed the central telegraph office, how e-mail is destroying the post office. Americans love individual action, gentlemen, because they are not of a collective mind about anything. Most Americans don't seek out a leader to tell them what to think. Sure, some continue to elect them, but look at how few actually vote. Most people conduct their affairs concentrating on the most important things in their lives: their families, business, friends. The more they can disconnect from outside control, the happier they are. The safety of my stratified-bed power cell is not the real issue with the press. The real issue is the implied rejection of central control of the electrical grid. If no central authority controls the amount of electricity a home receives, how could they ever enforce energy rationing? How could they get on anyone's case for drying clothes the wrong time of day? Or for leaving the lights on at night? How could the government penalize certain people for excessive use, in disregard of the fact that the user pays the monopoly -- heavily -- for electricity that ought to be considered his purchased property?"

    One of the six men harrumphed. "Without being connected to the grid, how could a drug agency target hydroponic farms by analyzing how much power they draw?"

    "Exactly!" Durelle grinned and pulled a fat cigar from his flight jacket and rolled up the sleeve of his right arm. The lighter built into the index finger of his cyborg arm emitted blue fire to light the tobacco. He blew out the flame and after a few puffs said, "You own what you control. Control the grid, control the people."

    "That's not what I meant--"

    Durelle gazed up slyly at the suits. They goggled back at him like mystified schoolboys. "I'm a betting man," he said slowly. "You seem to think that I need some favorable public relations. What would you suggest? Should I backpedal and insist that the report was old news and that we would never endanger the backyards of this nation with such dangerous devices?"

    After a moment of hesitation, the man with the bad sinuses said, "Well... yes."

    "How about if we just ignore it and come back with something different?" The man with one arm smiled. "Something that will deflect attention and prove my point about the American spirit?"

    The men looked edgy. They hated it when their boss talked that way. It was not something they had learned to deal with at business school. The previous year's trapshooting bungee-jump wager still haunted the nightmares of the survivors.

    He glanced at D'Asaro. From behind the lowering edge of the business section, her aureate eyes glowed with excitement.

    "She knows what I'm talking about. On what does central authority have the greatest stranglehold these days?" He waited.

    Knowing they were on the spot to come up with something, the men grasped at straws.

    "War?" one asked hesitantly.

    "Good guess. Except that there are about two hundred wars going on in the world today, a lot of them almost ad hoc." He took a deep drag on the cigar and blew a series of smoke rings. "Try again."

    "Information?" another ventured.

    "You're fired," Durelle said with an icy calm. "Nobody that ignorant should be here. Information is the most decentralized commodity. Has been, ever since the microchip. Take a hike."

    The others shifted nervously as the young man picked his jaw up off the deck and slowly turned to step wordlessly out of the office. No one else said anything.

    "You gutless button sorters. You're just a collection of college degrees with the souls squeezed out of you. I'll give you the answer. Space. There is only one space power: NASA. Europe, Japan, China, Germany, and all the others are just lobbing up hardware. Even Russia is coasting on past glory. Only one organization has the current ability to put people in orbit and only one has the ability to seize hardware that's already up there. You own what you control, gentlemen, and right now NASA owns the rest of the Universe, as far as Earth is concerned. That's a greater monopoly than any power utility or government service could hope to gain."

    They stared at him blankly. He had never rambled so before. To them, his words made no sense whatsoever. He might as well have been discussing the Man in the Moon. Incomprehensible as it might have been to them, he was.

    "Less than a decade ago, a man and a woman took off from an airport a few miles from here in a specially designed airplane and flew around the world, non-stop, on one tank of gas. They did it without any help from the government. In fact, they flew over some countries whose governments did not even know of the flight. They were small, they were high up, they were independent of any government protection or control. They were individuals, gentlemen, and do you know who paid for it?"

    He knocked cigar ashes on the floor. "Other individuals. They raised the funding in the old-fashioned way: they infused thousands of people with their dream, their vision. They only wanted to set a flying record that had never been made before. Pretty frivolous. Yet in the same year that NASA was covering up the deaths of seven astronauts, these two pilots seized the imagination and hope of a nation and became the symbol of individual initiative. That's what I plan to do."

    "Break their record?" a balding exec with a too-large briefcase ventured hopefully.

    Chemar laughed from behind the paper, folded it away, and smiled at Larry.

    "You could say that," he said. "We'll definitely be circling the world on one tankful. Only it won't take nine days. More like ninety minutes."

    "You're talking crazy..." the oldest man in the group said meekly.

    "Harold! You constantly surprise me with your outbursts." He turned to his co-pilot. "Chemar -- increase Harold's stock options by five per cent. He's getting backbone in his dotage."

    Chemar pulled a palmtop from her flight bag and entered the information.

    "Crazy is American, Harold. Demanding independence from Britain was crazy. Declaring every citizen a sovereign was crazy. Recognizing the individual as the fundamental unit of society was crazy. Building trains and planes and rockets -- the acts of madmen. And I'm proud to be part of that heritage. Crazy enough to build a rocket-plane in this hangar and fly it into orbit. Just because it's never been done before. Just for the hell of it."

    Amid the silence, only the faint throb of the air conditioner offered any evidence that time had not stopped in the room. Then the five spoke at once.

    "You can't be serious!"

    "The liability..."

    "--can't you see the negative publicity potential?"

    "You mean, go into space?"

    "...never get permission."

    Durelle lowered his cigar and answered rapid-fire: "I am serious; any liability can be insured; if I succeed, the publicity's positive, if I fail, I'll most likely be dead and then it's your problem; yes -- low Earth orbit, free-market astronauts, Horatio Alger in the sky; and I don't need anyone's permission to travel into Space any more than Leif Erickson did to travel to America. Watch and see. Now beat it. I've got a parallel team working on pre-publicity. Coordinate with them. Steinmetz is in charge there. Ask him."

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by timosman View Post
    The numbers are wrong. If you look at your electricity bill you will notice your average electricity usage is below 1kW (or 24kWh/day) so not 100 homes but 1000 homes per 1MW. A single unit could power 50,000 homes and New York would need not 220 but 22 units (or 40 to provide enough redundancy and capacity for spikes in usage)
    From my link:

    New York City uses 11, 000 Megawatt-hours of electricity on average each day.
    If this unit produces 50 megawatts, that indeed means 220 units to power New York. You seem to be right that it is 1000 homes per magawatt though.(New York City has over 2 million households). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demogr..._New_York_City
    Quote Originally Posted by NorthCarolinaLiberty View Post

    Half the crap I write here is just to entertain myself.
    I am Zippy and I approve of this post. But you don't have to.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    From my link:


    New York City uses 11, 000 Megawatt-hours of electricity on average each day.
    If this unit produces 50 megawatts, that indeed means 220 units to power New York. You seem to be right that it is 1000 homes per magawatt though.(New York City has over 2 million households). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demogr..._New_York_City
    You are mixing apples and oranges - MW and MWh/day which is 24 times bigger. You need to divide 220 by 24 so you would need less than 10 units(assuming flat usage, no spikes) or 25-35 units to accommodate for spikes.
    What is the punishment for the attempted murder of freedom on earth? 👁👁

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by timosman View Post
    You are mixing apples and oranges...
    Oh, man! Boo! Hiss! Don't lay it out so clearly like that for the Zip. Tell him he's wrong, but make it a bit confusing or ambiguous as to why. I was looking forward to him further and further embarrassing himself for a few pages of thread.

    It may not be too late to edit the post.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by timosman View Post
    You are mixing apples and oranges - MW and MWh/day which is 24 times bigger. You need to divide 220 by 24 so you would need less than 10 units(assuming flat usage, no spikes) or 25-35 units to accommodate for spikes.
    Thanks for the clarification. Article did not specify output was per day or per hour.
    Quote Originally Posted by NorthCarolinaLiberty View Post

    Half the crap I write here is just to entertain myself.
    I am Zippy and I approve of this post. But you don't have to.

  12. #11

    Default

    I already got one.
    Do something donnay


    Quiz: Test Your "Income" Tax IQ!


    Short Income Tax Video

    The Income Tax Is An Excise, And Excise Taxes Are Privilege Taxes

    The Federalist Papers, No. 15:

    Except as to the rule of appointment, the United States have an indefinite discretion to make requisitions for men and money; but they have no authority to raise either by regulations extending to the individual citizens of America.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Thanks for the clarification. Article did not specify output was per day or per hour.
    Oh brother. Yeah, it's all the article's fault. Blame the article that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    "But the article didn't say that electricity doesn't come from electric pixies having a party, and that's what my mom always taught me, so..."

  14. #13

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by H_H View Post
    Also, today's the perfect day to post in this thread! Name this book! Anyone?


    16 May

    The man with one arm knew the value of wealth. Wealth consisted not of the number of dollars one possessed, but of the quality of life one wrested from the universe. Larry Durelle lived a life of extremely high quality.

    Wealth allowed him the means to engineer a right arm and hand that looked real and responded to his will as would a limb of flesh and blood. Wealth paid for the artificial intelligence and fuzzy logic computer imbedded inside the device, which interpreted and acted upon the slightest electrical commands of the muscles in the three-inch stump protruding from his shoulder. Wealth bought the Beech Starship airplane that he piloted down toward the runway beside his mansion. Wealth purchased the sophisticated avionics that guided the plane to the touchdown point almost without Larry's assistance.

    Wealth served as a tool and -- in using it -- Laurence Newman Durelle was a master craftsman.

    His face looked as though it had been sanded from finest teak. His tanned skin lacked the leathery quality of other sun-worshippers in their mid-forties, since he could afford the treatments to fend off damage from solar radiation. He understood radiation, perhaps better than many physicists. Radiation was his business. Larry Durelle owned American Atomic, and owned it with a possessive passion most men reserved for a woman.

    Despite its quaintly archaic name, American Atomic grew into the world's largest manufacturer of portable nuclear power under Durelle's ownership. He built it from the economic ruins of a failing nuclear submarine facility a mere four years after returning from the war in Indochina.

    Having ditched his useless A-6 Intruder in the fouled waters of the Tônlé Sab, he killed his way to Pnomh Penh and down the Mekong River, and walked out of Cambodia in five days. He dragged into Chauphu with a gangrenous arm only to learn that Saigon was in the process of being abandoned to the armies of North Vietnam. He escaped -- barely -- onboard a fishing boat that navigated out of the Delta to deliver him to the USS Forrestal. He fought his way up the corporate monkey bars with equally single-minded, single-handed tenacity.

    The war memory recurred while flying, especially during landings at home. His private oasis lay on the northern shore of the Salton Sea -- two hundred thirty-five feet below sea level in the deserts of Southern California -- sandwiched between the Kane Military Operations Area and the transition area to the airport at Thermal. On approach to his own runway, Durelle passed over the northern quarter of the inland sea. He suppressed the sudden flash of memory about his controlled crash into Tônlé Sab not because he feared his past, but only because he refused to let the past affect the present.

    Durelle touched the Starship down to the pavement with easy grace and taxied it to the hangar. Only then did he turn to the woman in the co-pilot's seat and smile.

    "Cheated death again," he said.

    "Don't get cocky, kid," Chemar D'Asaro said, her eyes merry, the dark, smooth flesh of her face beginning to glisten in the desert heat. Her eyes provided the most striking feature of her stunning beauty. In startling contrast to her deep mahogany skin, their irises were twin pools of gold flake stirred by hidden breezes. Men -- upon first encountering her -- often gazed into those eyes as if hypnotized. They stared like guileless children, ignoring all the lovely curves that in other women would be the focii of attention. Her eyes commanded notice whether they glared with anger or scintillated with joy. Larry Durelle first met those golden eyes when Chemar served as a helicopter pilot in the Antilles. He watched the way they glowed with intense concentration as she skillfully jockeyed a rickety Sikorsky SkyCrane over a sunken shipment of plutonium pellets he sought to recover. He hired her on the spot to be his personal co-pilot and trouble shooter. She had never disappointed him.

    Together, they powered down the Beech and stepped out of the hot, heavy shoreline air into the relative cool of the hangar. Inside, amid the smells of avgas, jet fuel, and oil, stood two other aircraft. One, a glistening silver DC-3, the other a cherry-red Stearman, tricked out for ærobatics. Both planes -- and the Starship -- displayed immaculate maintenance.

    They climbed down the Starship's steps, flight satchels in hand, to face a half-dozen men in three-piece suits.

    "Ah," Durelle muttered with a grin. "My bloodsucking lawyers."

    D'Asaro said nothing. Durelle slapped on his warmest smile of greeting.

    "Gentlemen!" He spread sincerity like cream cheese. "To what do I owe this charming invasion of privacy?"

    A man near the middle, who looked as if the desert air had triggered a severe sinus attack, spoke through intermittent near-sneezes. "It's the press, Mr. Durelle. They're on the warpath about the leaked report."

    Durelle locked down the Beech and walked around it slowly, giving it the careful post-flight inspection it richly merited. "It's a slow news day. They'd grill Mary about the sheep-at-school scandal if they could."

    "What do we tell them?"

    D'Asaro spoke up in the lush French accent of her native Martinique. "Tell them that backyard nukes are safe and feasible as a way to disconnect homes from the electrical grid, then ask them why they are serving as unpaid hatchet men for the energy oligopolies."

    The man glowered and turned again toward Durelle, who merely hooked his thumb at her and grinned. "What she said." He hefted his black saddle-leather flight satchel and strode with D'Asaro toward the hangar office.

    "You can't shrug off public opinion like that, Mr. Durelle! It only makes things worse."

    Durelle opened the office door and tossed the airplane's keys to the gorilla sitting in an easy chair enjoying a cup of coffee. The short and muscular brute wore a perpetual expression of wry mockery that curled his freckled lips into a near-permanent sneer. The freckles continued across his face up under his shock of curly red hair, stained with wheel grease and jet soot. He caught the keys easily and shifted from his chair into an erect posture. "Turnaround time, boss?" he asked.

    "I'll be here a couple of days, Monk."

    Monk Patterson sneered happily and left the air-conditioned confines of the office for the supreme joy of running maintenance on the Starship, his personal favorite of the three aircraft Durelle hangared at Salton Sea.

    Durelle turned his attention back to his associates.

    "Public opinion is not what the papers print. That's just their attempt to impose their agenda on the public. I'm closer to the public opinion -- if there is such a thing -- than they are."

    "Nobody wants a nuclear power plant in their backyard," an older man with peppery hair said. "The last thirty years proves that."

    "All it proves," Durelle said, "is that nobody wants a huge tax-subsidized, zero-liability nuclear utility sucking them dry. Most people prefer independence. Why do people drive cars when they can take buses? Because they oppose transportation? No. Because they prefer to own their own vehicles. Why do people have guns in their homes when they have the police to protect them? Because they want to control the means of their immediate defense. Why do people buy washing machines when laundromats are plentiful? Why buy homes when barracks would be more economical?"

    He flopped down in the same chair vacated by Monk and leaned back; Chemar snorted and leaned against the steel desk and picked up that morning's Desert Tribune.

    "Gentlemen," Durelle continued. "You show me anything -- anything -- that's provided now by a centralized distribution network and I'll show you something that people would prefer owning and controlling themselves. Look at how the telephone destroyed the central telegraph office, how e-mail is destroying the post office. Americans love individual action, gentlemen, because they are not of a collective mind about anything. Most Americans don't seek out a leader to tell them what to think. Sure, some continue to elect them, but look at how few actually vote. Most people conduct their affairs concentrating on the most important things in their lives: their families, business, friends. The more they can disconnect from outside control, the happier they are. The safety of my stratified-bed power cell is not the real issue with the press. The real issue is the implied rejection of central control of the electrical grid. If no central authority controls the amount of electricity a home receives, how could they ever enforce energy rationing? How could they get on anyone's case for drying clothes the wrong time of day? Or for leaving the lights on at night? How could the government penalize certain people for excessive use, in disregard of the fact that the user pays the monopoly -- heavily -- for electricity that ought to be considered his purchased property?"

    One of the six men harrumphed. "Without being connected to the grid, how could a drug agency target hydroponic farms by analyzing how much power they draw?"

    "Exactly!" Durelle grinned and pulled a fat cigar from his flight jacket and rolled up the sleeve of his right arm. The lighter built into the index finger of his cyborg arm emitted blue fire to light the tobacco. He blew out the flame and after a few puffs said, "You own what you control. Control the grid, control the people."

    "That's not what I meant--"

    Durelle gazed up slyly at the suits. They goggled back at him like mystified schoolboys. "I'm a betting man," he said slowly. "You seem to think that I need some favorable public relations. What would you suggest? Should I backpedal and insist that the report was old news and that we would never endanger the backyards of this nation with such dangerous devices?"

    After a moment of hesitation, the man with the bad sinuses said, "Well... yes."

    "How about if we just ignore it and come back with something different?" The man with one arm smiled. "Something that will deflect attention and prove my point about the American spirit?"

    The men looked edgy. They hated it when their boss talked that way. It was not something they had learned to deal with at business school. The previous year's trapshooting bungee-jump wager still haunted the nightmares of the survivors.

    He glanced at D'Asaro. From behind the lowering edge of the business section, her aureate eyes glowed with excitement.

    "She knows what I'm talking about. On what does central authority have the greatest stranglehold these days?" He waited.

    Knowing they were on the spot to come up with something, the men grasped at straws.

    "War?" one asked hesitantly.

    "Good guess. Except that there are about two hundred wars going on in the world today, a lot of them almost ad hoc." He took a deep drag on the cigar and blew a series of smoke rings. "Try again."

    "Information?" another ventured.

    "You're fired," Durelle said with an icy calm. "Nobody that ignorant should be here. Information is the most decentralized commodity. Has been, ever since the microchip. Take a hike."

    The others shifted nervously as the young man picked his jaw up off the deck and slowly turned to step wordlessly out of the office. No one else said anything.

    "You gutless button sorters. You're just a collection of college degrees with the souls squeezed out of you. I'll give you the answer. Space. There is only one space power: NASA. Europe, Japan, China, Germany, and all the others are just lobbing up hardware. Even Russia is coasting on past glory. Only one organization has the current ability to put people in orbit and only one has the ability to seize hardware that's already up there. You own what you control, gentlemen, and right now NASA owns the rest of the Universe, as far as Earth is concerned. That's a greater monopoly than any power utility or government service could hope to gain."

    They stared at him blankly. He had never rambled so before. To them, his words made no sense whatsoever. He might as well have been discussing the Man in the Moon. Incomprehensible as it might have been to them, he was.

    "Less than a decade ago, a man and a woman took off from an airport a few miles from here in a specially designed airplane and flew around the world, non-stop, on one tank of gas. They did it without any help from the government. In fact, they flew over some countries whose governments did not even know of the flight. They were small, they were high up, they were independent of any government protection or control. They were individuals, gentlemen, and do you know who paid for it?"

    He knocked cigar ashes on the floor. "Other individuals. They raised the funding in the old-fashioned way: they infused thousands of people with their dream, their vision. They only wanted to set a flying record that had never been made before. Pretty frivolous. Yet in the same year that NASA was covering up the deaths of seven astronauts, these two pilots seized the imagination and hope of a nation and became the symbol of individual initiative. That's what I plan to do."

    "Break their record?" a balding exec with a too-large briefcase ventured hopefully.

    Chemar laughed from behind the paper, folded it away, and smiled at Larry.

    "You could say that," he said. "We'll definitely be circling the world on one tankful. Only it won't take nine days. More like ninety minutes."

    "You're talking crazy..." the oldest man in the group said meekly.

    "Harold! You constantly surprise me with your outbursts." He turned to his co-pilot. "Chemar -- increase Harold's stock options by five per cent. He's getting backbone in his dotage."

    Chemar pulled a palmtop from her flight bag and entered the information.

    "Crazy is American, Harold. Demanding independence from Britain was crazy. Declaring every citizen a sovereign was crazy. Recognizing the individual as the fundamental unit of society was crazy. Building trains and planes and rockets -- the acts of madmen. And I'm proud to be part of that heritage. Crazy enough to build a rocket-plane in this hangar and fly it into orbit. Just because it's never been done before. Just for the hell of it."

    Amid the silence, only the faint throb of the air conditioner offered any evidence that time had not stopped in the room. Then the five spoke at once.

    "You can't be serious!"

    "The liability..."

    "--can't you see the negative publicity potential?"

    "You mean, go into space?"

    "...never get permission."

    Durelle lowered his cigar and answered rapid-fire: "I am serious; any liability can be insured; if I succeed, the publicity's positive, if I fail, I'll most likely be dead and then it's your problem; yes -- low Earth orbit, free-market astronauts, Horatio Alger in the sky; and I don't need anyone's permission to travel into Space any more than Leif Erickson did to travel to America. Watch and see. Now beat it. I've got a parallel team working on pre-publicity. Coordinate with them. Steinmetz is in charge there. Ask him."
    No takers yet? It's a great book.






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