China creates a nuclear reactor to work in deep space

A Chinese nuclear reactor designed to operate in deep space has passed a complex efficiency assessment. It is proposed to use it for a mission that will explore Neptune or in an analog of the Voyager program, which can be launched by the Celestial Empire.

Compact nuclear reactor. Source: Wikipedia

Chinese Nuclear Reactor

Science and Technology Daily and other Chinese media report that on June 25, the Ministry of Science and Technology conducted a complex assessment of the effectiveness of a nuclear reactor designed to operate in deep space. 

Details of the project have not been disclosed, but it is known that the reactor is capable of producing 1 MW of electricity for the needs of the propulsion system and other spacecraft systems. It will be useful when launching missions in the vicinity of the Solar System, where there is not enough light for the efficient operation of solar panels.

It should also be noted that the proposed project should be distinguished from radioisotope thermoelectric generators, which are now widely used in space missions. We are talking about a full-fledged compact reactor, similar to those installed on submarines.

The creation of such a device has been one of the main areas of scientific development of Chinese space science for several years. The project was launched back in 2019, and at the same time many leading Chinese scientists called for breakthroughs in this area.

Missions to the borders of the Solar System

In 2021, there were reports that the drafting of a prototype reactor has already been completed and some parts of it have even been manufactured. And various Chinese scientific institutions have already proposed several projects in which it can be used.

A number of them are a program similar to Voyager. Within its framework, it is proposed to launch two spacecraft to the borders of the heliosphere. One should visit the part of it that is in the direction of the Sun’s orbit around the center of the Milky Way.  The second one, on the contrary, should fly into its “tail” part. It is also possible to launch a third spacecraft, which will fly in the plane of the ecliptic.

Another possible option could be a mission to explore Neptune. For this purpose, it is planned to create a device with the form of an electric jet engine that will be powered by a nuclear reactor.

According to

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