Two reports summarize progress thus far in the continuing development of a spacecraft nuclear reactor, some or all of the fuel rods of which would not be loaded until the spacecraft was in orbit. (Keeping the fuel rods out of the reactor core before and during launch is intended to minimize the risk of release of radioactive material in the event of a launch accident.) The report describes the design and operation of the fueling mechanism, and problems in the design and fabrication of the core. The fuel rods include uranium oxide in rhenium sleeves. The core includes niobium star-cross-section inserts and molybdenum tubes, into which the fuel rods are to be inserted.
This work was done by Peter Ring of Advanced Methods & Materials for Marshall Space Flight Center. For more information, contact the Marshall Technology Commercialization Office at (256) 544-2615.