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NASA's Kilopower Reactor Development and the Path to Higher Power MissionsThe development of NASA's Kilopower fission reactor is taking large strides toward flight development with several successful tests completed during its technology demonstration trials. The Kilopower reactors are designed to provide 1-10 kW of electrical power to a spacecraft which could be used for additional science instruments as well as the ability to power electric propulsion systems. Power rich nuclear missions have been excluded from NASA proposals because of the lack of radioisotope fuel and the absence of a flight qualified fission system. NASA has partnered with the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration to develop the Kilopower reactor using existing facilities and infrastructure to determine if the design is ready for flight development. The 3-year Kilopower project started in 2015 with a challenging goal of building and testing a full-scale flight prototypic nuclear reactor by the end of 2017. As the date approaches, the engineering team shares information on the progress of the technology as well as the enabling capabilities it provides for science and human exploration.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Gibson, Marc A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Oleson, Steven R.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Poston, Dave I.
(Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC Los Alamos, NM, United States)
McClure, Patrick
(Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC Los Alamos, NM, United States)
Date Acquired
November 13, 2017
Publication Date
October 1, 2017
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Engineering (General)
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 887359.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
kilopower fission reactor
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