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Next Generation Radioisotope Generators

Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) — The ASRG is currently being developed as a high-efficiency RPS technology to support future space missions on the Martian surface or in the vacuum of space. This system uses Stirling convertors, which have moving parts to mechanically convert heat to electricity. This power conversion system, if successfully deployed, will reduce the weight of each RPS and the amount of Pu-238 needed per mission.

A HISTORY OF MISSION SUCCESSES

For over fifty years, the Department of Energy has enabled space exploration on 27 missions by providing safe reliable radioistope power systems and radioisotope heater units for NASA, Navy and Air Force.

Mission

Year Launched

Agency

Regions Explored

Transit 4a

1961

Navy

Earth- Navy Navigation Satelitte

Transit 4B

1961

Navy

Earth - Navigation Satelitte

Transit 5-BN-1

1963

Navy

Earth - Navigation Satelitte

Transit 5-BN-2

1963

Navy

Earth - Navigation Satelitte

Nimbus III

1969

NASA

Earth - Weather Satelitte

Apollo 11

1969

NASA

Moon Surface

Apollo 12

1969

NASA

Moon Surface

Apollo 14

1971

NASA

Moon Surface

Apollo 15

1971

NASA

Moon Surface

Pioneer 10

1971

NASA

Jupiter

Apollo 16

1972

NASA

Moon Surface

Triad-01-1X

1972

Navy

Earth – Navigation Satelitte

Apollo 17

1972

NASA

Moon Surface

Pioneer 11

1973

NASA

Jupiter, Saturn

Viking 1

1975

NASA

Mars Surface

Viking 2

1975

NASA

Mars Surface

Lincoln Experimental Satelitte 8

1976

Air Force

Earth – Communications Satellite

Lincoln Experimental Satelitte 9

1976

Air Force

Earth – Communications Satellite

Voyager 2

1977

NASA

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. Interstellar Space

Voyager 1

1977

NASA

Jupiter, Saturn, Interstellar Space

Galileo

1989

NASA

Venus, Asteroid Belt, Jupiter

Ulysses

1990

NASA

Jupiter, Sun, Comets

Pathfinder-Sojourner

1996

NASA

Mars Surface

Cassini-Huygens

1997

NASA

Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Titan

Pluto New Horizons

2006

NASA

Jupiter, Pluto, Kuiper Belt

Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity

2011

NASA

Mars Surface

PLANNED PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS

FY 2013

  • Maintain operability of Space and Defense Power Systems related facilities to achieve DOE and Work-for-Others milestones.
  • Continue development of the ASRG in support of a potential NASA mission.
  • Complete fabrication of Pu-238 fuel at LANL for a potential NASA mission.
  • Maintain current RPS safety analysis capability and methods as new information becomes available.
  • Complete the upgrade of an environmental control system for power system assembly glovebox at INL.   
  • Continue to support development of the Nuclear Cyrogenic Propulsion Stage (Nuclear Thermal Rocket) with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.