Kilopower is NASA's brand new nuclear reactor, built to power deep-space exploration

NASA is perfecting a new type of reactor capable of powering a US home for hundreds of years.
By Lliane Hunter | May 04, 2018
NASA has announced the successful testing of Kilopower, a nuclear reactor that runs on fission energy. According to reports from Business Insider, the reactor is "designed to be safe, long-lasting, and energy-dense." David Poston, the project's chief designer praised the success of his team. "This is the first new reactor not just for space and not just for NASA, but of any kind in the US in 40 years," he announced during a press conference.

The device could enable unprecedented exploration of the moon, Mars, and the rest of the solar system, reports Business Insider. Kilopower was developed to generate enough power to run systems that are vital to a long-term presence in space. "This technology, we believe, will very likely be the most effective means to power human surface missions," predicts James Reuter, the acting associate administrator of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate.

Kilopower is a small, umbrella-shaped reactor that relies on fission to generate energy. Fission happens when atoms split, shoot out one or more neutrons, and release large amounts of energy. The reactor uses Uranium-235, one of the best types of atoms for this kind of reaction. During the experiment, researchers ran the uranium-fueled reactor for 28 hours at full power.The Kilopower team says it's incredibly safe to launch and use, evenif there's arocket explosion or other accident. They plan to establish a program with NASA to build, andfly Kilopower units sometime in the next 18 months.


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