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Nasa has successfully demonstrated Kilopower a nuclear reactor that they will send to space. It is a new nuclear reactor power system that could enable long-duration future missions to the Moon, Mars and destinations beyond. Scientists said that it is the first step towards sending the Kilopower technology up into 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. “Safe, efficient and plentiful energy will be the key to future robotic and human exploration,” said Jim Reuter, NASA’s acting associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington. “I expect the Kilopower project to be an essential part of lunar and Mars power architectures as they evolve.”
Kilopower is a small, lightweight fission power system capable of providing up to 10 kilowatts of electrical power. Four Kilopower units would provide enough power to establish an outpost. According to Marc Gibson, lead Kilopower engineer at Glenn, the pioneering power system is ideal for the Moon, where power generation from sunlight is difficult because lunar nights are equivalent to 14 days on Earth. So, it gives an opportunity to astronomers exploring the shadowed craters of the Moon. One of the NASA’s researcher said that when they start sending astronauts for long stays on the Moon and other planets, it will be required a new class of power that they have never used before. Nasa also shared a photo of how such a system might look on the Moon. Engineers said that it will required great expertise to set it up there, whether humans were there or not.
The project will remain a part of the STMD’s Game Changing Development program with the goal of transitioning to the Technology Demonstration Mission program in Fiscal Year 2020.
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