Home » News & Blogs » Space Fission Power Post #10:Ultimate Goal: High-Power Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP)
Bookmark and Share
Space Nuclear Power: Fission Reactors

Space Fission Power Post #10:Ultimate Goal: High-Power Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP)

29 Feb 2012, 08:59 UTC
Space Fission Power Post #10:Ultimate Goal: High-Power Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP)
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

A high performance NEP reactor offers more potential benefit to long-term human space exploration than any other space reactor application. The reactor for a high-performance NEP systems would power a multi-megawatt (MMW) system (>>1 MWe) with a very low specific mass (<< 10 kg/kWe). Whereas NTRs offer a factor of 2 performance benefit over chemical rocket technology, a higher performance NEP system can offer orders of magnitude better performance (ISP) – a truly enabling and paradigm shifting technology. Advances are continuously being made in all of the non-nuclear technologies needed for an NEP system, most importantly power conversion, heat rejection, and thrusters. Significant advances are being made in ion thrusters (HiPEP) and plasma thrusters (e.g. VASIMR), such that the deployment of high power EP systems appear possible within a decade or two. Conversely, a reactor for this kind of NEP system is essentially no closer to deployment than it was 50 years ago; which is another testament that non-nuclear system development is vastly easier than nuclear system development. The difficulty in this reactor is not achieving high power, but delivering power with a very low mass system, which implies very high temperature operation.A high-performance MMW reactor has some of the ...

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

astronomy_pod