What's the smallest nuclear reactor possible in terms of size and/or weight? What kind of power output could it achieve?
It's somewhat related to science fiction. I was wondering if a small nuclear reactor could be a good alternative to solar panels and radioisotope generators for space power applications. Historically only a few nuclear powered spacecraft have flown: SNAP-10A for the United States and a series of Soviet nuclear powered radar reconnaissance satellites in low Earth orbit (Soviet designation US-A, Western designation RORSAT). Wikipedia claims that nuclear reactors are competitive with radioisotope generation when power requirements exceed 100 watts, but that doesn't indicate how small they can get. It also isn't applicable for other forms of transportation, all of which have their various nuances.It sounds like you might be working on a SciFi story. Is that right?
You do understand that reactors are fueled by uranium/plutonium/thorium, all of which are radioactive, right?No special problem with launch failure--
There will be no radioactivity until the reactor is activated.
That won't happen until the reactor is in orbit or on the moon or on Mars, or on some other deep-space mission.
A somewhat trivial answer is that by definition the power output is zero. So long as you have a nonzero power output, you can make a smaller reactor with smaller power output.What's the smallest nuclear reactor possible in terms of size and/or weight? What kind of power output could it achieve?
Are you sure of that number? Your link shows 160W, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator#ModelsTheir initial power was 62 watts.
You are absolutely correct. Thank you. I don't know how I got 62 w.Are you sure of that number?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_1 said:Voyager 1 has three radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) mounted on a boom. Each MHW-RTG contains 24 pressed plutonium-238 oxide spheres. The RTGs generated about 470 W of electric power at the time of launch, with the remainder being dissipated as waste heat. The power output of the RTGs declines over time (due to the 87.7-year half-life of the fuel and degradation of the thermocouples), but the craft's RTGs will continue to support some of its operations until 2025.[