VU-initiated startup receives $30M

Alumni-led Zeno Power to build nuclear–powered satellite for the U.S. Space Force


Zeno Power, a startup initiated through the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s Innovation Center, has received a total of $30 million from the U.S. Department of Defense and private investors to develop and build a flight-ready radioisotope-powered satellite by 2025. It is expected to be the first launch of a commercially developed space nuclear system in history. 

Led by alumni Tyler Bernstein, Jonathan Segal, BS’19, and Jake Matthews, MS’18, Zeno Power’s mission is to provide clean, plug-and-play power, anywhere in the universe. The $30 million, provided through a U.S. Air Force Strategic Funding Increase agreement, will be used to develop a radioisotope power system–enabled satellite for the U.S. Space Force. 

Radioisotope power systems convert heat generated by the natural decay of radioactive isotopes—into electrical power. RPSs have been deployed in a variety of space missions because they can be used in environments beyond the capabilities of solar power, chemical batteries and fuel cells, according to NASA. 

Zeno Power has created a novel and commercially available RPS that uses radioisotopes that are currently categorized as nuclear waste. With this technology and the abundance of these nuclear waste materials, Zeno is able to rapidly fulfill the needs of commercial and government customers in space and on Earth.

Learn more about Zeno Power and its founders here.

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