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Space Nuclear Power: Fission Reactors

Space Fission Power Post #6:Entry-Level Option: Fission Surface Power (FSP) for Mars/Moon

23 May 2012, 23:32 UTC
Space Fission Power Post #6:Entry-Level Option: Fission Surface Power (FSP) for Mars/Moon
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Fission Surface Power (FSP) systems are well suited to be the workhorse of human exploration infrastructure on the Moon, Mars, or other potential destinations (e.g. Titan, large asteroid). Some potential surface power electrical loads include habitats, in-situ resource utilization plants, rechargeable rovers, construction equipment, and science experiments. The power output of a single workhorse surface system might be in the range of 20 to 50 kWe, with a lifetime of ~5 to 10 years. In addition, the relatively low-power and “high” mass allowance of a surface reactor might make it the easiest space fission system to develop. For a human surface exploration mission, fission power has so many advantages over other power alternatives that the mass requirements will not be as stringent. This allows “mundane” reactor technologies to be used (i.e. stainless-steel, UO2) at very benign power/flux levels, which makes development simple. Plus, as part of a “heavy” mission architecture, there should be less programmatic pressure to meet mass targets, or worse, decrease mass during development—a contributor to the downfall of the SP-100 program. There are many possible reactor and power conversion technologies available for an FSP system. Stirling power conversion is generally considered the best option for systems in ...

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