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Ultra-Radiation-Hardened Power Conversion, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Current designs for NASA fission power systems include relatively heavy shielding to protect the system components and payload from radiation emitted by the reactor. This shielding typically comprises over 35% of the power system mass. We propose to develop ultra-radiation-hardened power conversion technology to reduce shielding requirements for the converter and electronics so the large central shadow shield can be reduced or eliminated, in favor of smaller localized shields positioned to protect specific items that are sensitive. This work has great potential to reduce overall system mass significantly for Kilopower, Nuclear Electric Power (NEP), and Surface Power missions being considered by NASA. Consequently, these missions will become more practical and affordable to execute. Although we plan to focus on Brayton converters and electronics, the results will also apply to Stirling converters and their electronics. Creare is well-suited to succeed because we have a long history developing turbo-Brayton systems and radiation-hardened electronics for spaceflight applications. During the Phase I project, we will develop converter and electronics designs with radiation-hardened features, we will specify conceptual mission details, and we will optimize shielding mass. We will then fabricate and test prototype hardware during the Phase II project. More »

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