An intense effort to design, construct, and test a nuclear‐pumping facility (NPF) has been completed at the University of Missouri‐Columbia (UMC). The NPF has a flow capability similar to that of the now defunct Brookhaven Chemonuclear In‐Pile Research Loop, plus the optical capability to monitor light output from the irradiation chamber. Both features make the UMC NPF a unique research loop usable for a wide variety of projects including radiation chemistry, fluorescence studies, photochemistry, dual media nuclear‐pumped lasers, and direct nuclear‐pumped lasers. Initial tests of the facility included a demonstration of 40.0 ft3/h flow rates (pump limited), and a spectral scan of N2 and He. The latter test represents a first effort in obtaining nuclear‐pumped gas spectra from a high‐power steady‐state reactor such as the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR). Results indicate that observed spontaneous emission mainly comes from the first negative spectral series in N2+ (B2Σ+u →x2Σ+g) and from He∗2 electronic transitions.