NASA revealed earlier that it has successfully tested its Kilopower portable nuclear fission reactor, a system capable of supplying energy to habitats during the future missions to Mars or the Moon. The trials either fulfilled or surpassed expectations in all measurements, signifying that the instrument can now undergo more stringent flight tests.
The Kilopower instrument is nonetheless a prototype now but it will be critical for space exploration missions in which astronauts are unable to carry sufficient provisions with their ship and have to generate their own electricity once they’ve got to another planet.
“We need to think about the resources needed to stay and explore. As we move deeper into the solar system, there will come a point where transporting all the necessary materials or attempt to replenish ourselves becomes dangerous. At this point, our scouts will have to be able to generate their own resources,” said Janet Kavandi from the NASA Glenn Research Center during the presentation of the device.
Killpower portable nuclear fission reactor would help astronomers achieve power in their future missions to Mars or the Moon
Kilopower test, named Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology (KRUSTY), has been performed by NASA at the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security campus.
Kilopower is a portable nuclear fission reactor which employs a six-inch section of uranium-235 as combustible. The fission reactions within the core produce thermal energy, that is turned into electrical energy by the device.
The equipment surpassed the researchers’ expectations with a revised test unit that delivered over 4 kilowatts of electricity at an operational temperature of 800 degrees Celsius, scoring a power conversion rate of 35%.
The reactor has to be expandable to a 10 kilowatts output objective. According to NASA, 4 of these portable reactors are required to supply the necessities of electricity for an outpost during the future manned missions to Mars.
The Kilopower portable nuclear fission reactor is just one of the NASA’s great plans, which also include the Space Launch Systems, Orion spaceship, along with the lunar platform which NASA plans to use as a research and deeper space exploration missions launch base.