November 26th, 2012
03:23 PM ET

Proposed nuclear reactor could power future space flights

By Mark Morgenstein, CNN

For potential power sources on space flights beyond the horizon, scientists are looking back to the future.

A team of NASA and Department of Energy researchers has shown that a reliable nuclear reactor based on technology that's been around for decades could be used in spaceships, according to a news release from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where some of the researchers are based.

The news release says the team used "heat pipe technology," which was invented at Los Alamos in 1963, and uses a heat pipe to cool a small nuclear reactor and power a Stirling engine, producing 24 watts of electricity.

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