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Development of NASA's Small Fission Power System for Science and Human ExplorationExploration of our solar system has brought many exciting challenges to our nations scientific and engineering community over the past several decades. As we expand our visions to explore new, more challenging destinations, we must also expand our technology base to support these new missions. NASAs Space Technology Mission Directorate is tasked with developing these technologies for future mission infusion and continues to seek answers to many existing technology gaps. One such technology gap is related to compact power systems (1 kWe) that provide abundant power for several years where solar energy is unavailable or inadequate. Below 1 kWe, Radioisotope Power Systems have been the workhorse for NASA and will continue to be used for lower power applications similar to the successful missions of Voyager, Ulysses, New Horizons, Cassini, and Curiosity. Above 1 kWe, fission power systems become an attractive technology offering a scalable modular design of the reactor, shield, power conversion, and heat transport subsystems. Near term emphasis has been placed in the 1-10kWe range that lies outside realistic radioisotope power levels and fills a promising technology gap capable of enabling both science and human exploration missions. History has shown that development of space reactors is technically, politically, and financially challenging and requires a new approach to their design and development. A small team of NASA and DOE experts are providing a solution to these enabling FPS technologies starting with the lowest power and most cost effective reactor series named Kilopower that is scalable from approximately 1-10 kWe.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Gibson, Marc A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Mason, Lee S.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Bowman, Cheryl L.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Poston, David I.
(Los Alamos National Lab. NM, United States)
McClure, Patrick R.
(Los Alamos National Lab. NM, United States)
Creasy, John
(National Security Complex Oak Ridge, TN, United States)
Robinson, Chris
(National Security Complex Oak Ridge, TN, United States)
Date Acquired
June 26, 2015
Publication Date
June 1, 2015
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: Joint Propulsion Conference
Location: Cleveland, OH
Country: United States
Start Date: July 28, 2014
End Date: July 30, 2014
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc., American Society for Electrical Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 887359.01.04
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
Heat Transfer
Solar System
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