A reactor core that includes highly enriched uranium alloy components produced at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge could power future space exploration, including on the Moon and Mars, federal officials said.
The reactor core fabricated at Y-12 has been delivered to the Nevada National Security Site, where it is being used in a experiment called Kilopower. That’s a new power source that could provide safe, efficient energy for future robotic and human space exploration missions, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. The power source could help provide lighting, water, and oxygen on those missions.
NASA said the pioneering space power system, which would use nuclear fission, could provide up to 10 kilowatts of continuous electrical power for at least 10 years. That’s enough power to run two average households.
Four Kilopower units would provide enough power to establish an outpost, NASA said. The system could enable long-term stays on planetary surfaces.
Testing, which started in November, is being performed through this spring at the National Critical Experiments Research Center in the Device Assembly Facility at the Nevada National Security Site. [Read more…]