With the increasing demands of versatile and long-lasting requirements of deep space missions, space nuclear reactor (SNR) power system is becoming the most potential energy source compared to conventional solar-battery and chemical energy in the future large-scale and long-life space missions. Since the very first successful launch of SNR system (SNAP-10A) in 1965, the United States, the Soviet Union / Russia, the European Union, Japan, Brazil and China have proposed various technical routes and schemes for SNR technologies over the past few decades. This paper presents a historical review of several key technologies (i.e., space nuclear reactor system and thermoelectric conversion system), especially focus on technical progress for recent decade and discusses on-going development activities. The paper also presents a forecast of potential future space applications of these key technologies.

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