In the past few years, there has been a strong revival of interest in using nuclear fission energy to power space travel and planetary exploration. There have also been new developments in radioisotope thermal generators that will make them more widely available with greater energy density. Though there has been interest in using nuclear energy in space since the earliest days of the Atomic Age, financial support has waxed and waned with changing program priorities. George Bush was president the last time there was this much investment in space nuclear power.
Members of the US Nuclear Industry Council that have an interest in developing and deploying space nuclear energy systems created a working group to help them cooperate in ways that further their common interests.
Ron Faibish, chair of US NIC’s Space and Emerging Technologies Working Group visited the Atomic Show to talk about the nuclear systems being developed for space power and propulsion. We discussed propulsion options including nuclear thermal rockets and nuclear powered electric propulsion. We talked about the power requirements for early applications and about the materials technology improvement that will enable better performance.
You should enjoy the visionary nature of this episode and the way space explorers are planning to use technologies that are well advanced on the TRL (technical readiness level) scale.
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