On the Commitee for Skeptical Inquiry, Tom Napier explains why sending our nuclear waste into the sun just won't work. It's not just an issue of the dangers involved: shipping a pound of nuclear waste would cost in the millions of dollars.
The bad news is that to hit the Sun requires reducing the spacecraft’s velocity by nearly all of Earth’s orbital velocity. That is, we have to slow it by 30 km/sec. This is an enormous change in velocity; space probes to the nearer planets make velocity changes of only the order of 4 km/sec.
Since we also have to apply 11.2 km/sec just to get into space, it might seem that we need an acceleration of 41 km/sec to get to the Sun. The good news is that velocities can’t be combined; in space energies are combined. To get from the surface of Earth to the Sun we need an acceleration of “only” 32 km/sec. So how big a rocket do we need to dump one ton of waste into the Sun?
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