NASA, Department of Energy, Los Alamos National Lab hoste a news conference at noon EST (9 a.m. PST) Thursday, Jan. 18, at the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, to present the Kilopower reactors.
The Kilopower reactors are tiny nuclear reactors that have been redesigned for safe power.
The full power runs for the test reactors will be done this month and the next two months.
Before the reactors are started the uranium in them would only cause a person to experience 0.5% of their average yearly exposure in the event of a launch accident.
The reactors including shielding are the size of a wastepaper basket. They currently are testing two sizes (1 kilowatt and 10 kilowatt). They would send five of the ten-kilowatt units on a Mars mission.
There is also work to similar safe modular nuclear reactors with megawatts of power. There is a Megapower design of the Los Alamos reactors. This would use stirling engines for the power conversion. The Megapower design is described at the bottom of this article.