Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Power to the Planet

A nuclear reactor the size of a wastebasket could power future operations on Mars and beyond.
August 1, 2018
Power to the Planet

A human mission to Mars will require a strong and reliable power source. CREDIT: Mars image, NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS

Kilopower is fully autonomous, adjusting power on its own as conditions require.

The “Kilopower” nuclear-fission reactor is the present incarnation of an idea that Los Alamos has been considering for decades. Poston, the lead designer, and Patrick McClure, the Los Alamos project lead, have recently returned from the Nevada desert, where they successfully tested their concept: a wastebasket-sized and fully autonomous space-based nuclear reactor. McClure and Poston hope to enable nuclear power stations for Mars, the Moon, and the outer solar system. And with a long history of innovation in nuclear, space, and energy technology, Los Alamos has the pedigree to transform this ambitious objective into reality.

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