Autonomous Control of Space Nuclear Reactors

Award Information
Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$599,862.00
Award Year:
2009
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase II
Contract:
NNX09CA53C
Agency Tracking Number:
074342
Solicitation Year:
2007
Solicitation Topic Code:
X8.03
Solicitation Number:
n/a
Small Business Information
Payload Systems, Inc.
1 Broadway, Cambridge, MA, 02142-1189
Hubzone Owned:
N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
604717165
Principal Investigator:
John Merk
Principal Investigator
(617) 500-0281
jmerk@aurora.aero
Business Contact:
Scott Hart
Financial Analyst
(617) 500-0536
shart@aurora.aero
Research Institution:
n/a
Abstract
Nuclear reactors to support future robotic and manned missions impose new and innovative technological requirements for their control and protection instrumentation. Long duration surface missions necessitate reliable autonomous operation, and manned missions impose added requirements for fail-safe reactor protection. There is a need for an advanced instrumentation and control system for space-nuclear reactors that addresses both aspects of autonomous operation and safety. Highly reliable, earth-based reactor instrumentation systems can provide an excellent reference for space-based designs, however there is currently no earth-based reactor control system that is practical for use in space. In Phase I, we established the feasibility of adapting proven terrestrial reactor instrumentation for space application, and developed a preliminary architecture on which to base a flight system. This Phase II will result in a complete detailed design for a space-based Reactor Instrumentation and Control System (RICS), including fabrication and testing of a ground-based prototype for system evaluation. Additionally, we will leverage existing neutron detection technology developed under a previous NASA contract, and optimized for the space environment. This Wide Range Neutron Detector (WRND), in conjunction with the proposed RICS, will provide a complete solution for autonomous operation of space reactors from hundreds of watts to multi-megawatts.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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