China space nuclear power research

Liu Zhirang, member of the National People’s Congress and president of the Sixth Academy of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), briefed reporters recently that the Academy is working with the nuclear power related research and design institutions to carry out space nuclear power program demonstration and key technology studies. In the following phases, it will implement various proposals and solutions of nuclear thermal and nuclear power to expand the adaptability of space tasks.

Liu Zhirang stated that the liquid propellant rocket engine in active service belongs to chemical propulsion, and that the specific impulse is limited by the propellant’s own chemical energy, so it is difficult to adapt to future missions such as manned Mars exploration and large interplanetary cargo transportation.

While on the other hand, Nuclear-heated rocket engines usually use hydrogen as a propellant. Nuclear reactors with a power of 100 megawatts or more are used to heat hydrogen up to ultra-high temperatures. Theoretically the propulsive force can reach hundreds of tons.


However, space nuclear power technology is extremely difficult. As nuclear power system is large in size, heavy in weight, and complex in supporting facilities. Due to the difficulties in test verification, nuclear safety, and protection, no practical and practical results have been obtained so far.

Elaine Li

Elaine Li

Elaine Li (李益楠) is Marketing Manager for the Chinese Market. With ten years of experience in the nuclear power market, Elaine is experts for the certification of safety equipment (HAF 604 and 601) and marketing intelligence.
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