Areas of Research

The 2024 CSNR Summer Fellowship Program, June 3 through August 9, 2024, will be the 19th year of this intense, innovative exploration of applications of nuclear energy in space. Stipends being offered this year for the 10-week session to $650/week for undergraduate juniors and seniors, $800/week for MS candidates and $900/week for PhD candidates. Housing will be provided to interns who choose this in-person fellowship.

The 2024 CSNR Summer Fellows will work collaboratively on one of, or cross-functionally across the following four project areas:

  1. Propellant and coolant interaction studies: Participants will explore the use of propellants for nuclear thermal propulsion such as hydrogen and other alternatives that offer greater stability and storability without active refrigeration. e.g. methane and ammonia. In studying the use of these propellants, participants will evaluate the mission performance of such elections and the chemical interactions that could influence fuel and reactor system performance. The study will examine both in-pile (inside nuclear reactors) and out of Pile (furnace) testing that may be needed to establish fuel performance understanding of how the chemistry in combination with radiation effects will drive fuel performance. Participants may design tests to perform material coupon testing and fuel particle – propellant out-of-pile interaction studies in 2024 that will establish foundational data that can in the future, be compared under NASA hydrogen and propellant loop testing in pile and at NASA’s NTREES facility at NASA MSFC.
  2. Advanced Nuclear Propulsion Concept development studies: Participants will support NASA and collaborators in evaluating the performance of advanced propulsion concepts such as the Centrifugal Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (CNTP) concept, an Advanced Reflected Gas Core Reactor (ARGCoR) and advanced nuclear electric and hybrid nuclear thermal propulsion systems. Participants will examine reaction kinetics and dynamic behavior of molten, gas or plasma phases of materials and interactions with propellants. Some reactions may be slowed by advanced coatings on materials and filaments in the fuel matrices or containers. Participants will review the kinetics of reactions of propellants such as hydrogen with the candidate materials in advanced systems to identify reactions of concern. Experiment design and support of testing where practicable will be performed by participants.
  3. Advanced Thermal Radiator Technology Studies: Participants will explore advanced radiator technologies that will improve the overall mass efficiency and performance of nuclear electric and hybrid nuclear thermal propulsion systems. Participants will explore novel radiator designs and assess materials and manufacturing approaches that could be used to accelerate the relevant technology readiness levels. Participants may evaluate collaborations and industry partnerships that could support the maturation of these technologies.
  4. Advanced Energy Transmission: Participants will develop conceptual approaches to transmission of electromagnetic energy from source to Point A or Point B in space or on earth to power remote platforms. Participants will explore opportunities to use for both commercial and government applications, e.g. for CIS-Lunar and Lunar Surface operations.

The Summer Fellows will work collaboratively in teams, based on the different fields of expertise needed by each project. The Program gives the CSNR Summer Fellows a chance to explore fields beyond those within their majors, so that nuclear, chemical and aerospace engineers have an opportunity to learn a cross-disciplinary approach to some challenging, real-world problems.

During the summer, the Fellows will be asked to make short presentations of the results of their research and a final oral/written presentation to NASA and DOE scientists, program managers and leaders within the space nuclear power and propulsion community.

© 2024 Universities Space Research Association