NASA built and tested a 'truly astounding' nuclear reactor that may help astronauts travel longer, farther, and faster in space
Comment of the Day

May 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

NASA built and tested a 'truly astounding' nuclear reactor that may help astronauts travel longer, farther, and faster in space

This article by Dave Mosher for Business Insider may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

"This is the first new reactor not just for space and not just for NASA, but of any kind in the US in 40 years," David Poston, the project's chief designer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said during a press conference Wednesday. "We demonstrated a concept that NASA can use right now. It's ready for a flight program."


In March, NASA tested that process in an experiment called Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology, or KRUSTY. The test run generated about 100 watts of electrical power, or enough to run a bright incandescent lightbulb.

But Poston said Kilopower could easily scale up to 10 kilowatts — 100 times more, or enough to power a typical US home — and even megawatts.

He called the experiment "incredibly successful" and said it cost NASA relatively little.

"People thought it would cost billions of dollars to do these reactors," Poston said. "We showed we can design, build, and test a reactor for less than $20 million."

Eoin Treacy's view

It says a lot about how negative sentiment is about nuclear energy that in order to get a design built you have to promise to deploy the reactor in space. If that isn’t the starkest example of Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) then I don’t know what is.

However, there are definite advantages to creating small self-contained reactors that can potentially power small cities at acceptable costs. It’s also a testament to just how much technology has improved that a reactor can go from blueprints to working prototype for $20 million. It’s hard to get a roundabout on a busy road built for that kind of money these days.

The biggest obstacle to a recovery in uranium prices is Japanese stockpiles and the slow pace of bringing their reactors back on line. Meanwhile major producers have been cutting back on supply and there is increasing evidence of demand returning to dominance.

Cameco has bounced from above C$10 on three occasions since 2016 and rallied this week to post a new recovery high.

Geiger Counter Ltd is a UK listed closed end fund and is currently trading at a premium of 3.96%. It has bounced from the 17p area twice in the last year and appears to be firming from that level at present.

Back to top

You need to be logged in to comment.

New members registration