View Full Version : NASA Halts Work on its New Nuclear Generator for Deep Space Exploration

2013-Nov-21, 07:20 PM
Another blow was dealt to deep space exploration this past weekend. The announcement comes from Jim Green, NASA’s Planetary Science Division Director. The statement*outlines some key changes in NASA’s radioisotope program, and will have implications for the future exploration of the outer solar system. (...)Read the rest of NASA Halts Work on its New Nuclear […]

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2013-Nov-22, 08:17 AM
Betcha one of the main reasons they're not gonna use the new reactor design is cause of all the moving parts.

2013-Nov-22, 09:38 AM
Yes , as somebody said in an other forum ,when you see all the problems with reaction wheels ,it does not bode well for this kind of technology.

2013-Nov-23, 02:25 PM
First: it's not a reactor. It's a replacement for the thermoelectric converters used in RTGs, one which produces much usable power from a given heat source.

As for the moving parts, with reaction wheels you have the loads of a heavy spinning wheel aboard a maneuvering spacecraft concentrated on small low-friction high-speed bearings. The Stirling engine is a couple low-mass, lightly loaded cylinders moving back and forth in a tube. So they're less likely to have wear issues than reaction wheels, and we do use reaction wheels. You only hear about the ones that fail, and many spacecraft are operated beyond their planned lifetime until something fails. Kepler's wheels lasted beyond its planned lifetime. Cassini's are still working after 9 years of use at Saturn, Mars Odyssey had a recent glitch with one and switched to a spare after 11 years of operation.