Nuclear Power for Space Applications.

Dr Mark Ho.

12 noon to 1 pm, Wednesday 17 April 2019.

G045 Quadrangle building (E15), UNSW Kensington Campus.

Mark Ho’s slides are available here


Kilopower 1 kWe Reactor for Space Applications

Nuclear power for space application has a long history of development, resulting in many successful deployments on satellites, landers and deep space missions.  At its peak, the United States spent a combined total of $3.5 billion (1960 dollars) on the SNAP (Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power) program and NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application) program, nearly 20% of the total spent on the Apollo program.  A major highlight of the NERVA program was a demonstration of a 4000 MWth nuclear thermal rocket firing with an Isp of 890 s (1968).  Compared to an Isp of 460 s for hydrolox system, these numbers remain astounding to this day.  Though arguably the workhorse for deep space missions have been the RTGs which have powered everything from the Voyager missions to the Mars Science Laboratory.  This talk will briefly cover the three main of nuclear power options available: (1) radioisotope thermoelectric generators; (2) nuclear thermal propulsion and (3) space-borne nuclear reactors.

About Dr Mark Ho

Dr Mark Ho is a reactor thermo-hydraulic specialist at ANSTO with a PhD (UNSW) in computational fluid dynamics.  His main interest lies in nuclear reactor design, energy systems, numerical and experimental fluid mechanics and the study of multiphase flow. He is president of the Australian Nuclear Association.