Neutron Bytes Space Fission Page
This page on Neutron Bytes features news and information about applications of nuclear energy in space for both scientific exploration and commercial uses.
If you work in this area, or know someone who does, please send me notices about your activities so they can be noted on this page. Press releases, etc., should be sent to: neutronbytes [at] gmail [dot] com
The page is a combination of resource listings and news reports. The page features links and occasionally short excerpts from news reports. Longer will appear in the main blog page.
- Interesting Links, References, Books
- Space Nuclear News – Recent items, documents, etc.
Interesting Links (Updated 10/01/19)
- World Nuclear Association has a comprehensive web page on the use of nuclear energy in space
- Wikipedia – Nuclear Power in Space
- NASA –
- Radioisotope Power Systems
- RTGs – Power and thermal systems
- Nuclear Power for Space missions: Kilopower
- Nuclear Thermal Propulsion: Game Changing Technology for Deep Space Exploration
- U.S. Department of Energy – History of Nuclear Power in Space
- Idaho National Laboratory – Space Power Systems
- American Nuclear Society – Using Nuclear Technology to Explore Space
- ANSTD, Aerospace Nuclear Science & Technology Division
- ANSTD Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space – NETS2019 Conference Proceedings
- ANS Nuclear Cafe – Why Nuclear is an Emerging Technology for the Space Economy
- Universe Today – News about nuclear energy in space for power and propulsion with an excellent report
- Space News – Op-ed | An argument for space fission reactors
- Reviving Project Orion – a speculative work in progress
- Book – Principles of Nuclear Rocket Propulsion, 1st Edition; Authors: William Emrich, Jr., Paperback ISBN: 9780128044742 eBook ISBN: 9780128045305 Imprint:
Butterworth-Heinemann; Published Date: 25th July 2016
Space Nuclear News – Recent Clips
The archive of previously posted clips is available at Space Fission.
10/14/19 – Houston Chronicle – NASA is exploring nuclear propulsion — a project started by the agency 60 years ago
09/30/19 Engineering.com Nuclear Propulsion: How We Could Reach the Stars with Current Technology
09/27/19 Wired – NASA Wants to Send Nuclear Rockets to the Moon and Mars
09/27/19 Politico – Push for nuclear power in space sets off proliferation debate
09/24/19 Universe Today – Just How Feasible is a Warp Drive?
09/02/19 AJU Business Daily – British and Korean researchers work together to develop nuclear battery for space exploration
Despite its infrequent use, NASA has big plans for nuclear power in space. NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will use a radioisotope thermoelectric generator to power its mission on the red planet. Additionally, NASA plans to use an RTG to charge the battery of Dragonfly, a semi-autonomous rotorcraft that will explore the surface of Saturn’s planet-like moon, Titan. Lastly, NASA has been developing a small nuclear fission reactor to power long-duration stays on planetary surfaces. The reactor has passed several ground tests in the last few years and may be ready for tests in orbit as soon as 2022.
08/20/19 Houston Chronicle Is nuclear propulsion a game changer for trip to Mars?
The nine-month trip to Mars could be slashed in half with nuclear propulsion — but NASA is barely looking into the technology.
The efficiencies of this new technology — for both human and scientific missions — were discussed by Rex Geveden, president and CEO of BWX Technologies, during the sixth meeting of the National Space Council on Tuesday. The Virginia-based company supplies nuclear components and fuel to the government.
And Geveden implored NASA to spend more time on it if Mars truly was a goal.
“If we are to fulfill these objectives to establish a long-term presence on the moon and to send the first crewed mission to Mars, nuclear power is arguably the most important to enable these bold goals,” Geveden said.
The current budget funds feasibility studies and engine-environment performance but little else.
A new type of nuclear reactor designed to power crewed outposts on the moon and Mars could be ready for its first in-space trial just a few years from now, project team members said.
A flight test is the next big step for the Kilopower experimental fission reactor, which aced a series of critical ground tests from November 2017 through March 2018. No off-Earth demonstration is on the books yet, but Kilopower should be ready to go by 2022 or so if need be, said Patrick McClure, Kilopower project lead at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
The Last Question
Q: How can the threat to human existence posed by the heat death of the universe can be averted?
A: There is insufficient data for a meaningful answer.
Source: Issac Asimov “The Last Question” Science Fiction Quarterly, 1956.
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