ISRO, BARC to Develop Nuclear-Powered Engines for Rockets

It has been learnt that the India’s space agency, ISRO, is jointly developing a nuclear-powered engines along with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).

According to the sources, ISRO-BARC are developing what are called Radio thermoelectric generators (RTGs). As of now, the work has already begun and has been identified as a major task that has to be completed soon.

Understandably, the nuclear engines are not to be thought of as nuclear fission reactors that generate electricity.

Basically, the RTGs use radioactive materials, such as Plutonium-238 or Strontium-90, which release heat as they decay.

Essentially, the engine contains two parts, namely the radioisotope heater unit (RHU) which generates heat, and the RTG, which converts the heat into electricity.

Notably, the US spacecrafts such as the Voyager, Cassini and Curiosity have been powered by RTGs.


About Bhabha Atomic Research Centre

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is India’s premier nuclear research facility, headquartered in Trombay, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.

It was founded by Homi Jehangir Bhabha as the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay in January 1954 as a multidisciplinary research program essential for India’s nuclear program.