NASA has successfully conducted the ‘Kilopower’ test of a space-bound nuclear reactor. This breakthrough can help future missions to the Moon and Mars to be energized with nuclear energy. Scientists told that this nuclear reactor test was even more successful than what they had expected.
Scientists hope that Kilopower technology can be used in space missions and nuclear fission can apply to power more space technologies. Flight tests are to be conducted next to find how long a system can perform in space.
A huge amount of power is required to refuel missions to Moon and Mars and this can be accomplished by using a nuclear reactor. It will be very difficult to supply energy for those long mission operations by using traditional techniques. This future technology can help to make many long-term missions on Moon and Mars to come true by eradicating present energy problems. It is going to be the first step towards using Kilopower technology for the space requirements.
Safety is also ensured because fuel stored in it is mildly radioactive and causes no hazards until it is allowed to turn on. It never causes any problem to equipment or people who are flying with it. When it is turned on, it will provide a reliable and safe energy. Without taking much input, clean and safe power is provided.
Large power sources not depending on the sun are required on Moon and Mars missions. NASA hopes that it can send small power plants for these purposes in future. A source of fuel energy like this is very much needed for such long missions. Scientists also shared a picture of such a system, to make clear how such a system appears on the Moon. All these attempts require great expertise to arrange and set up properly.
It takes hundreds of years for the fuel to exhaust. It is then expected to probably leave on the planet it has reached, such as Moon or Mars. Scientists said that the waste it carries out will be contained and there will be no contamination of the area around it.
The Kilopower system also marks a breakthrough for nuclear energy apart from its use in space. Dave Poston from NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) said that it is the first nuclear reactor developed in the US for 40 years. This is surely going to be a major breakthrough for future.