Recent Joint Studies Related to the Development of Space Radioisotope Power Systems

Over the last several years there has been a mutually beneficial ongoing technical interchange between the U.K and the U.S. related to various aspects of space radioisotope power systems (RPS). While this interchange has been primarily focused on materials based activities, it has also included some aspects related to safety, environmental, and lessons learned during the application of RPSs by the U.S. during the last fifty years. Recent joint technical RPS endeavors have centered on the development of a possible “cold” ceramic surrogate for 238PuO2 and 241AmOx and the irradiation of thermoelectrics and other materials at expected RPS related neutron fluences. As the U.S. continues to deploy and Europe develops RPS capability, on-going joint RPS technical interfaces will continue to enhance each entities’ endeavors in this nuclear based power technology critical for deep space exploration.