U.S. Government Finds that Reactor for Moon Does Not Require Bomb-Grade Uranium Fuel

NPPP Obtains Report under Freedom of Information Act

AUSTIN (NPPP PR) – The nuclear reactor that NASA plans to launch to the Moon’s surface later this decade to power a manned mission would not require weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel, according to a government study released yesterday that contradicts previous assertions. The report, “Analysis of Alternative Core Designs for Fission Surface Power Capability Demonstration Mission,” was released to the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

As recently as 2018, U.S. officials had claimed that bomb-grade fuel was necessary to reduce the weight of space power reactors and had tested such a reactor at a national laboratory. By contrast, the new report reveals that using low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, which is unsuitable for nuclear weapons, would not increase the total weight of the reactor system if a “moderator” were used to slow down the neutrons to facilitate nuclear fission.

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NASA Announces Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Reactor Concept Awards

Illustration of a conceptual spacecraft enabled by nuclear thermal propulsion. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is leading an effort, working with the Department of Energy (DOE), to advance space nuclear technologies. The government team has selected three reactor design concept proposals for a nuclear thermal propulsion system. The reactor is a critical component of a nuclear thermal engine, which would utilize high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel.

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NASA Space Technology Budget Request Fact Sheet

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Space Technology
($ Millions)

The Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) develops transformative, cross-cutting technologies that lead to research and technology breakthroughs to enable NASA’s missions and is broadening its focus on cross-cutting space technologies that will support creating good jobs in a growing space industry.

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US Nuclear Corp.: Fusion Reactors Could Open Way to the Planets

LOS ANGELES, December 7, 2020 (US Nuclear Corp. PR) — US Nuclear (OTCQB: UCLE) is the prime contractor to build MIFTI’s [Magneto-Inertial Fusion Technologies Inc.] fusion generators, which could be used in the relatively near future to power the propulsion systems for space travel and provide plentiful, low-cost, clean energy for the earth and other planetary bases once our astronauts get to their destination, be it the moon, Mars, Saturn or beyond.

Chemical powered rockets opened the door to space travel, but are still far too slow and heavy even to travel to distant planets within our solar system, let alone travel to other stars. Accordingly, NASA is now looking for nuclear-powered rockets that can propel a space vessel at speeds close to the speed of light and thermonuclear power plants on the moon and Mars, as these are the next steps towards space exploration and colonization.

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