The foundation of our daily necessities hinges upon the availability of energy, yet our world grapples with ongoing energy reserve crises. Aerospace engineer Kirk Sorensen posits an unconventional solution in Thorium, a naturally occurring radioactive element abundant in supply, cleaner and more efficient than current energy sources. “Thorium: The NASA Story,” a new feature-length documentary by Gordon McDowell, champions Thorium’s potential, particularly in space colonization, and its practicality for terrestrial use.

By synthesizing viral video content with new footage, McDowell renders complex scientific concepts accessible to the layperson. The documentary first underscores energy’s critical role in space exploration through notable NASA missions like Voyager 1, New Horizons, and the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. Each mission’s success or failure directly correlates with its energy source. As voyages extend beyond solar system limits, reliance on solar and battery power wanes, impeding grand objectives such as exploring beneath Jupiter’s moon Europa’s icy surface. Sorensen, drawing on his extensive NASA tenure, advocates nuclear power as a transformative solution.

Illustrating its point with popular culture reference points like “The Martian,” the film depicts how nuclear-powered missions could facilitate Martian surface exploration and resource utilization. It posits that ambitions shared by luminaries like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Elon Musk for space exploration are thwarted by energy limitations. Real-life space missions falter due to solar power’s constraints, compelling the argument that Thorium’s application extends beyond space to Earth’s energy needs. Unlike the destructive perception associated with nuclear power, “Thorium: The NASA Story” repositions it as a force for progress and sustainability.

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