Space & Technology

January 19, 2018
 

Kilopower: What’s next?

nasa-kilopower
When astronauts someday venture to the Moon, Mars and other destinations, one of the first and most important resources they will need is power.

A reliable and efficient power system will be essential for day-to-day necessities, such as lighting, water and oxygen, and for mission objectives, like running experiments and producing fuel for the long journey home.

That’s why NASA is conducting experiments on Kilopower, a new power source that could provide safe, efficient and plentiful energy for future robotic and human space exploration missions.

This pioneering space fission power system could provide up to 10 kilowatts of electrical power — enough to run two average households — continuously for at least ten years. Four Kilopower units would provide enough power to establish an outpost.

About the experiment
The prototype power system was designed and developed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in collaboration with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, while the reactor core was provided by the Y12 National Security Complex. NASA Glenn shipped the prototype power system from Cleveland to the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) in late September.

The team at the NNSS recently began tests on the reactor core. According to NASA Glenn’s Marc Gibson, the Kilopower lead engineer, the team will connect the power system to the core and begin end-to-end checkouts this month. Gibson says the experiments should conclude with a full-power test lasting approximately 28 hours in late March.

The kilopower advantage
Fission power can provide abundant energy anywhere we want humans or robots to go. On Mars, the sun’s power varies widely throughout the seasons, and periodic dust storms can last for months. On the Moon, the cold lunar night lingers for 14 days.

“We want a power source that can handle extreme environments,” says Lee Mason, NASA’s principal technologist for power and energy storage. “Kilopower opens up the full surface of Mars, including the northern latitudes where water may reside. On the Moon, Kilopower could be deployed to help search for resources in permanently shadowed craters.”

In these challenging environments, power generation from sunlight is difficult and fuel supply is limited. Kilopower is lightweight, reliable and efficient, which makes it just right for the job.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines – May 18, 2018

News Despite shortage, Air Force likely won’t boost enlisted pilot ranks – Even as the U.S. Air Force faces a long-term pilot shortage, there are no plans to grow the ranks of enlisted pilots, a top official said recently.     Business Heckler & Koch: Mexico firearms export trial opens in Germany – Six ex-employees...
 
 

News Briefs – May 18, 2018

Military plane wreckage removed 2 weeks after Georgia crash Wreckage from a military plane has been removed from a Georgia highway and taken to a new site two weeks after a deadly crash that killed nine National Guard airmen. The military said in a news release May 16 that remains of the crashed C-130 Hercules...
 
 
bob4

A Shark in the desert

It’s pretty common around our desert home to see people come to a stop, bend their necks and look skyward as the sounds of aircraft herald their approach overhead. They usually stand still and share thoughts with other bystan...