As described in the NASA SBIR 2020 program solicitation, kilowatt-class fission power generation is an enabling technology for lunar and Mars surface missions that require day and night power for long-duration surface operations, and may be the only viable power option to achieve a sustained human presence. Under the subtopic 2020-Z1.03 entitled Thermal Management, ThermAvant Technologies (ThermAvant) has begun development of an intermediate temperature, large format, high-capacity Oscillating Heat Pipe (OHP) embedded radiator panel to significantly improve the size, weight and power density of future kilowatt class Fission Power Systems (FPS). This Phase II proposal aims to continue the development of thin profile radiator panels, e.g., greater than 1m2 scale x 2-3mm thick, to reject waste heat from the reactor system, and get the technology positioned for implementation.
Artemis and any of the moon-to-mars related objectives that involve a human presence will require a sustainable power source, which many view nuclear power as likely the only viable option. This proposed technology development will bridge the gap between existing radiator technologies and the shortcomings associated with implementation on lunar or martian surface environments.
All commercial space systems that can utilize heat rejection from radiators above 360 K (current state of the art in radiator technology) will benefit from this development. Additionally, electric aircraft have been identified as an excellent application for outer mold line cooling, as well as various industrial processes that require relatively higher temperature heat rejection capability.