Nuclear reactor will be launched on Mars by 2022
The United States have created a new type of nuclear reactor
According to space.com, project team members said that a new type of nuclear reactor, designed to power outposts with crews on the moon and Mars, could be ready for the first test in space in just a few years.
The flight test is the next big step for the Kilopower fission experimental reactor, which completed a series of critical ground tests from November 2017 to March 2018. “There is no off-Earth demonstration yet, but Kilopower should be ready by 2022 or so,” said Patrick McClure, Kilopower project manager at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Department of Energy in New Mexico.
“I think we could be ready to fly in three years,” McClure said at the end of last month during the presentation of the NASA working group on future space operations. “I think that three years is a very feasible term,” he added, emphasizing that this is his opinion, not necessarily the opinion of NASA, which is developing the Kilopower project together with the Department of Energy.
The Kilopower reactor is designed to generate at least 1 kilowatt of electricity (1 kWe). According to McClure, its power can be increased to 10 kW, and it can work for about 15 years.
Thus, four enlarged Kilopower reactors could meet the energy needs of NASA researchers, and the fifth reactor probably landed to provide a spare. These devices are smaller than you think. The entire 10 kW machine will have a height of just 3.4 meters, and the reactor component will be the size of a metal trash can from an old school. According to McClure, the reactor core alone, without any shielding, would be about as large as a roll of paper towels.
Kilopower is the first truly new fission reactor concept developed in the United States over the past 40 years.
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