The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge manufactured the uranium reactor core for a federal experiment that tested whether a nuclear energy source could provide power for space exploration.
“The full-power run showed that it may be feasible for NASA to use small fission reactors for deep space exploration and manned missions to the moon and Mars,” the National Nuclear Security Administration said in May.
The NNSA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy, worked with NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) on the project. It’s nicknamed KRUSTY, an acronym for Kilowatt Reactor Using Stirling Technology.
“In a joint venture with NASA last year, NNSA completed final design, fabrication, and full-power testing of a nuclear criticality experiment that can be used for a manned lunar or Mars space mission,” NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty said in a post published on Twitter on Friday.