It’s called the Kilopower project and engineers are hoping the new type of nuclear reactor will be ready for in-space trial by 2022.
The reactor is a NASA and Department of Energy co-initiative which developed a fission power systems to supply energy to crewed outposts on the Moon and Mars.
A prototype is about the size of a fridge and can provide about 40 kilowatts of power, or enough to power eight homes on Earth.
The Kilopower experimental fission reactor performed well during a series of ground tests that took place from November 2017 through March 2018.
The next step is to send it into space.
“I think we could do this in three years and be ready for flight,” project lead Patrick McClure told space.com.
McClure said he is not waiting on NASA to officially announce a time-line for the project.