China develops nuclear reactor for space travel “100 times more powerful than a NASA device”
China is developing a nuclear reactor to aid its missions to the Moon and Mars.
The reactor can generate one megawatt of electricity and is said to be 100 times more powerful than a similar device NASA is working on, according to the South China Morning Post.
NASA’s fission energy source is said to be used to support permanent human life on the Moon and is expected to be developed by the end of the decade.
According to two anonymous scientists, chemical fuel and solar energy will not be enough to meet the demands of human space exploration and potential colonies on other bodies.
“Nuclear power is the most promising solution. Other countries have launched ambitious plans. China cannot afford the cost of losing this race, ”one said.
The megawatt space reactor is expected to face challenges as it cools; only part of the heat generated by it could be used to make electricity, while the rest must be dissipated into space to avoid melting.
Its small size means that it will reach a much higher temperature than those on Earth.
Jiang Jieqiong, a professor at the Institute of Nuclear Safety Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, suggested that the reactor could use a collapsible structure – similar to an umbrella – to increase the surface area of the radiators.
There are a number of other ideas, however: Some research teams developed smaller reactors that could be compiled into a larger machine, which could then train the large ion thrusters to send astronauts to Mars.
Humanity’s race to settle on the stars has come with certain problems, most notably the problem of space debris. There are around 228 million space debris in the world, but many countries have been reluctant to deal with it.
This month, a Russian satellite exploded in a test that resulted in hundreds of thousands of debris stranded in orbit and was seen as “threatening the interests of all nations,” according to a spokesperson for the department. of American state.
China took an approach just as lax as that of the Long March 5B rocket, which circled the Earth at tremendous speed that made the calculation of its landing unpredictable in May of this year.
The South China Morning post said the secrecy surrounding space nuclear reactor programs means there is no legislation in place that could deal with an accident, such as a failed launch or a meltdown in space.
“There is an urgent need to establish a security assessment and management system adapted to the technological status of our country, to increase the transparency of the progress of research and development in order to reduce the concerns of the general public,” said said Zhang Ze, space scientist at the Shanghai Space Institute. said the propulsion.