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Nasa announces successful 'Kilopower' test of nuclear reactor for space

Posted in Hardware on 3rd May, 2018 01:43 PM by Alex Muller

Nasa has tested a nuclear reactor they will send to space. Nasa hopes that this means future missions to the Mars and Moon will be powered with nuclear energy. Tests conducted by Nasa seemed to suggest that the reactor was even more successful than it had thought.


Scientists said that it is the first step towards sending the Kilopower technology up unto space, so that fission can be used to power space exploration missions. The next step will be flight tests to see how such a system would perform in space, Nasa said.


In the future, the agency hopes that it can send the small power plant on missions to Mars and the Moon. On those long missions, it will be very difficult to provide energy for the operations and people involved using traditional techniques – but using a nuclear reactor will give huge amounts of energy without the need for refuelling.


It will be able to do so very safely because the fuel contained within it is very safe and only mildly radioactive until it is turned on. That will allow it to be carried into space without damaging the people or equipment that are flying with it.


Once it is turned on, however, it will give out safe and reliable power that can be used by people without needing much input, officials said during a press conference. That will be very important during long missions that will rely on having a dependable source of fuel.


"When we go to the moon and eventually on to Mars, we are likely going to need large power sources not dependent on the Sun," said James Reuter, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

Tags: SpacemoonMarsrocketnuclearNASA

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