Space Fission

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.
  • InfoGraphics

Interesting Links (Updated 10/01/19)

Space Nuclear News – Recent Clips

The archive of previously posted clips is available at Space Fission.

10/14/19 – Houston ChronicleNASA is exploring nuclear propulsion — a project started by the agency 60 years ago

09/30/19 Nuclear Propulsion: How We Could Reach the Stars with Current Technology

09/27/19 WiredNASA Wants to Send Nuclear Rockets to the Moon and Mars

09/27/19 PoliticoPush for nuclear power in space sets off proliferation debate

09/24/19 Universe TodayJust How Feasible is a Warp Drive?

NPR 09/17/19 Meet The Nuclear-Powered Self-Driving Drone NASA Is Sending To A Moon Of Saturn

09/02/19 AJU Business DailyBritish and Korean researchers work together to develop nuclear battery for space exploration

08/28/19 CSISUnpacking the new federal memorandum on nuclear fission applications in space

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.

08/12/19 Kilopower Nuclear Reactor for Mars Outpost Could Be Ready for Deep Missions by 2022

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.



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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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