Lockheed Breakthrough: Nuclear-Fusion Reactors Tiny Enough to Power Aircraft

October 15, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

Lockheed Martin announced Wednesday that it has made a breakthrough in developing a nuclear fusion reactor that measures only about 7 feet by 10 feet, that’s 90 percent smaller than previous concept models. 

A small reactor could power a U.S. Navy ship or aircraft, noted Scientific American. 

“Our compact fusion concept combines several alternative magnetic confinement approaches, taking the best parts of each,” said Tom McGuire, compact fusion lead for the Skunk Works’ Revolutionary Technology Programs, in a Lockheed press release.”The smaller size will allow us to design, build and test the CFR [compact fusion reactor] in less than a year.”

After several cycles of testing, the team anticipates a reactor ready to be deployed by 2024. 

Lockheed, a major technology contractor for the U.S. military, has been commissioned by the government in recent years to explore alternative energy sources. “We can make a big difference on the energy front,” McGuire told Scientific American. 

The company announced that it will be looking for partners to help further develop the technology.