By 2028, NASA is aiming to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon. What power system will fuel the long-duration stay on the moon, as well as other planetary surfaces? An answer may reside in Kilopower, with the Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology (KRUSTY) project proving its worth in a successful demonstration last year.
The experiment showed the Kilopower system could, in fact, use fission power to generate electricity, and revealed it was safe and stable in any environment.
“We threw everything we could at this reactor, in terms of nominal and off-normal operating scenarios and KRUSTY passed with flying colors,” David Poston, the chief reactor designer at NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, says.
In light of the experiment’s success, the minds behind KRUSTY recently earned the Gears of Government President’s Award, which “recognizes the contributions of individuals and teams across the federal workforce who make a profound difference in the lives of the American people,” according to Performance.gov.
According to NASA, Kilopower is a tiny, lightweight, fission-power system. It can offer up to 10 kW of electrical power on a continual basis for a minimum of 10 years. It would take four to create a sustainable base, NASA explains.
Jim Reuter, NASA’s acting associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington, says, “Safe, efficient, and plentiful energy will be the key to future robotic and human exploration. I expect the Kilopower project to be an essential part of lunar and Mars power architectures as they evolve.”
The team is currently looking into a future flight or lunar demonstration mission.
Watch the video below to learn more about the award-winning system.