China is developing a nuclear reactor for space travel “100 times more powerful than NASA’s device”

China is developing a nuclear reactor to aid its missions to the Moon and Mars.

The reactor can generate one megawatt of electricity and is claimed to be 100 times more powerful than a similar device NASA is working on, according to the South China Morning Post.

NASA’s fission power source would be used to sustain permanent human life on the Moon, and is scheduled to be developed by the end of the decade.

Chemical fuel and solar energy are not going to be enough to meet the demands of human space exploration and possible settlements on other bodies, according to two anonymous scientists.

“Nuclear energy is the most hopeful solution. Other nations have launched some ambitious plans. China cannot afford the price of losing this race, “said one of them.

The megawatt space reactor is expected to face challenges when it comes to being cooled; only part of the heat generated by it could be used to produce electricity, while the rest must be dissipated in space to avoid a meltdown.

Its small size means that it will reach a temperature much higher than Earth’s.

Jiang Jieqiong, a professor at the Institute of Nuclear Safety Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has suggested that the reactor could use a collapsible structure – similar to an umbrella – to increase the surface area of ​​the radiators.

However, there are other ideas: Some research teams have been developing smaller reactors that could be compiled into a larger machine, which could then power the large ion thrusters to send astronauts to Mars.

Humanity’s race to settle in the stars has been accompanied by some problems, such as space debris. There are roughly 228 million pieces of space junk around the world, but many countries have been reluctant to tackle it.

This month, a Russian satellite exploded in a test that caused hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris to remain in orbit and was deemed to “threaten the interests of all nations,” according to a spokesman for the US State Department.

China has taken an equally lax approach, as seen with the Long March 5B rocket, which was circling the Earth at an enormous speed that made its landing unpredictable in May this year.

The South China Morning Post claims that the secrecy surrounding space nuclear reactor programs means there is no legislation that can deal with an accident, such as a failed launch or a meltdown in space.

“It is urgently necessary to establish a security evaluation and management system that adapts to the technological situation of our country, and to increase the transparency of advances in research and development to reduce the concern of the general public,” said the space scientist. Zhang Ze of the Shanghai Institute of Space Propulsion.

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