Europe advances still-preliminary testing of space-based nuclear power systems

by Amy Svitak

WASHINGTON -- The European Space Agency (ESA) is conducting simulated trials of radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) as part of a broader effort to develop independent access to space-based nuclear power that could enable challenging planetary science and exploration missions.

The development program, funded by ESA and led by the University of Leicester in collaboration with ArianeGroup of France, relies on the cost-effective production of americium-241 as the heat source for both an RTG system and radioisotope heating units (RHUs) designed to thermally regulate spacecraft components . . .

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