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Rendering of Kilopower on surface of the moon

The concluded Kilopower project developed preliminary concepts and technologies that could be used for an affordable fission nuclear power system to enable long-duration stays on planetary surfaces. NASA’s fission surface power project expands on Kilopower’s work and results, focusing on a 10-kilowatt class lunar demonstration in the late 2020s.

After successful completion of the Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology (KRUSTY) experiment in March 2018, the Kilopower project team began developing mission concepts for a lunar demonstration. A lunar demonstration, part of the current fission surface power project, will pave the way for future fission surface power systems. The technology can enable human outposts on the Moon and Mars, including mission operations in harsh environments and in-situ resource utilization infrastructure capable of producing propellants and other materials.

The Kilopower project was part of the Game Changing Development program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). NASA’s Flight Opportunities program funded parabolic and suborbital flights that matured the Kilopower technology’s titanium water heat pipes by exposing them to space-relevant environments through the use of commercial reusable suborbital launch vehicles. 

The Kilopower project team was led by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland in partnership with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Other partners included the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Y-12 National Security Complex, and the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). Testing occurred from November 2017 to March 2018 at the National Criticality Experiments Research Center in the Device Assembly Facility at the NNSS.

Engineers working on the KRUSTY system.

The new fission surface power project falls under STMD’s space nuclear technologies portfolio within the Technology Demonstration Missions program based at Marshall. The project is led by Glenn.

Kilopower Archives

News release: Kilopower results (May 2, 2018)

Kilopower Media Event (May 2, 2018)

Kilopower Media Event Presentation Slides (May 2, 2018)

Kilopower Media Event (Jan. 18, 2018)

Kilopower Media Event Presentation Slides (Jan. 18, 2018)

Web Feature: Kilopower: What’s Next? (Jan. 18, 2018)

Web Feature: Powering Up NASA’s Human Reach for the Red Planet (Nov. 13, 2017)

Media Contact

Jan Wittry
NASA’s Glenn Research Center, Cleveland