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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

NASA testing ultra-simple small nuclear reactors that will power missions to Mars and beyond

• by brian wang

* A small pill size rod of Boron Carbide will turn on the reactor
* Beryllium oxide reflectors will enhance the nuclear reaction so less uranium is needed
* a 6 inch uranium core is used

Well established physics are used for a design targeted at needing almost no control system to safely generate up to 10 kilowatts of power for many years.

The agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has provided multi-year funding to the Kilopower project. Testing is due to start in November and go through early next year, with NASA partnering with the Department of Energy's (DOE) Nevada National Security Site to appraise fission power technologies.

"The reactor technology we are testing could be applicable to multiple NASA missions, and we ultimately hope that this is the first step for fission reactors to create a new paradigm of truly ambitious and inspiring space exploration," adds David Poston, Los Alamos' chief reactor designer.

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