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To the Moon and Back: UC Davis Plays Role in Historic Artemis I Mission

On Dec. 11, Artemis I’s Orion capsule made a successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean after nearly 26 days in space and orbiting the moon. Orion is NASA’s new exploration spacecraft designed to carry humans into deep space. 

The McClellan Nuclear Research Center (MNRC) at the University of California, Davis played an important role in the success of the historic moon mission.  


Fox 40 Video: McClellan Nuclear Research Center Helps Reduce Carbon Footprint From Jet Fuel


MCCLELLAN PARK, Calif. (KTXL) -- At McClellan Airport, there’s an old concrete building many don’t know about. Inside, there’s a nuclear reactor.

Mani Tripathi is a particle physicist and the associate dean of the University of California Davis College of Life and Science.

“This is the McClellan Nuclear Research Center operated by UC Davis,” said Tripathi.

Open House at MNRC a Big Success

September 20, 2019

by Lisa Howard

Open House at MNRC a Big Success

McClellan Nuclear Research Center held its first Open House on September 18, attracting a total of 26 participants that included undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty from Medical, Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering, and Plant Sciences.

Subatomic Particles, Soil, Solar and Space: 4 Research Studies at MNRC

By Lisa Howard

September 16, 2019

The McClellan Nuclear Research Center (MNRC) reactor in Sacramento has been active since January 20, 1990, and was originally used by the U.S. Air Force to detect flaws in aircraft parts using neutron irradiation. It has been owned and operated by UC Davis since 1999.

No Super Powers but Nuclear Program Gets Students Excited about Science

November 26, 2018

By Lisa Howard

Nuclear physics isn’t usually on the curriculum for high school and middle school students, but during the past year more than 1,000 students and teachers from 20 schools have been doing some fundamental experiments at the UC Davis McClellan Nuclear Research Center.

At 27 years old, MNRC remains one of “newest” nuclear reactors in U.S., but industry may be waking up

By Lisa Howard


On January 20, 1990, when the nuclear reactor at McClellan Air Force Base achieved its first sustained nuclear reaction known as “criticality,” it was the newest reactor in the United States.

Six years later, when the Tennessee Valley Authority launched the Watts Bar Nuclear Generating Station, the reactor at McClellan was relegated to second newest. McClellan would go on to retain that ranking for another two decades until this past October when the Tennessee Valley Authority launched Watts Bar Unit 2.

Our Research Reactor, Across the Causeway

It may not be able to power a city, but UC Davis’ nuclear reactor at McClellan Park has inspected components that will end up on Mars, inspired students and helped faculty with research projects.

Leaders with the McClellan Nuclear Research Center and Office of Research recently made a pitch to faculty and staff: Bring your classes — and your research projects — to the Sacramento reactor.

McClellan Nuclear Research Center Receives “Green Light” on Strategic Plan, Appoints New Director

The McClellan Nuclear Research Center (MNRC), owned and operated by UC Davis, has received approval from campus leadership to proceed with the implementation of a recently developed strategic plan that sets the direction for the facility over the next 5+ years. As part of the continued commitment, Wesley Frey, Ph.D., formerly the center’s radiation safety officer, has been appointed as the new director.

UC Davis reactor gets a role in Mars mission

As NASA prepares for manned missions into deep space, UC Davis’ McClellan Nuclear Research Center is playing an integral role in the groundwork.

The center recently helped develop a technique for performing neutron radiography on a breakable ring used in rocket stage separation. After the launch sequence, different modules will separate from each other when an explosive core in the ring detonates. Such rings will eventually be used on Orion, the spacecraft intended to bring humans to Mars in the 2030s, and likely also will be tested at MNRC.