A nuclear fission reactor was a power source common to 20th century Earth vehicles. As the name implies, it generates energy through the process of nuclear fission.

The USS Enterprise, an aircraft carrier which was in service with the US Navy, was the first ship of that type to be equipped with such a nuclear reactor. In 1986, Commanders Pavel Chekov and Uhura transported aboard the Enterprise in search of high-energy photons from one of its eight nuclear fission reactors. They were needed to recrystallize the dilithium of the HMS Bounty, a hijacked Klingon Bird-of-Prey taken to the past in order to bring a humpback whale into the future. Captain Montgomery Scott had designed a special device to retrieve the photons, which Chekov and Uhura attached directly to the reactor. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

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