Fabrication and Testing of CERMET Fuel Materials for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion
48th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit
A first generation Nuclear Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (NCPS) based on Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) is currently being developed for Advanced Space Exploration Systems. The overall goal of the project is to address critical NTP technology challenges and programmatic issues to establish confidence in the affordability and viability of NTP systems. The current technology roadmap for NTP identifies the development of a robust fuel form as a critical near term need. The lack of a qualified
... f a qualified nuclear fuel is a significant technical risk that will require a considerable fraction of program resources to mitigate. Due to these risks and the cost for qualification, the development and selection of a primary fuel must begin prior to Authority to Proceed (ATP) for a specific mission. The fuel development is a progressive approach to incrementally reduce risk, converge the fuel materials, and mature the design and fabrication process of the fuel element. A key objective of the current project is to advance the maturity of CERMET fuels. The work includes fuel processing development and characterization, fuel specimen hot hydrogen screening, and prototypic fuel element testing. Early fuel materials development is critical to help validate requirements and fuel performance. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview and status of the work at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).