NASA backs nuclear power from Rolls-Royce for Moon exploration

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The UK Space Agency has announced £2.9m in new funding to Rolls-Royce to develop a nuclear micro-reactor that could be used to power a future Moon base. The reactor, which is about the size of a car, would generate up to 10 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power a small settlement on the Moon.

The funding will be used to develop the reactor’s core technology, including fuel, heat transfer, and power conversion systems. Rolls-Royce is also working with several partners on the project, including the University of Oxford, the University of Bangor, and the University of Sheffield.

The project’s goal is to have a working reactor prototype ready to be tested by 2025. If successful, the reactor could power a Moon base as early as 2029.

The funding will be used to develop a small, lightweight nuclear reactor that could provide power for various applications on the Moon, including communications, life support, and scientific research. The reactor would be designed to be modular so that it could be easily transported to the Moon and assembled on-site.

Rolls-Royce has a long history of developing nuclear power technologies, and the company has already designed several small nuclear reactors for use in other applications, such as marine propulsion and power generation. The Micro-Reactor programme will build on this experience and develop a reactor specifically designed for use on the Moon.

Developing a nuclear reactor for the Moon is a significant step forward in the UK’s plans to return to the Moon. Nuclear power is a reliable and efficient energy source, and it would be ideal for use in a long-term lunar base. The Micro-Reactor programme is expected to be completed by 2029 and could pave the way for the first permanent human presence on the Moon.

The UK Space Agency’s funding for the Micro-Reactor programme significantly boosts the UK’s space industry. The project is expected to create new jobs and generate economic growth in the UK, and it could help to make the UK a leading player in the global space race.

Here are some advantages of using nuclear power on the Moon:

  • Nuclear power is a reliable and efficient source of energy. It can provide power 24/7, regardless of the weather or the time of day.
  • Nuclear power is a cleaner source of energy. It does not generate greenhouse gases or other pollutants.
  • Nuclear energy is a safe energy source. Modern nuclear reactors are designed with multiple safety features to prevent accidents.

Using nuclear power on the Moon could enable several new scientific and technological breakthroughs. For example, could use nuclear energy to power:

  • A permanent lunar base
  •  A lunar telescope
  •  A lunar mining operation
  •  A lunar manufacturing plant

The development of nuclear power for the Moon is a significant step forward in the UK’s plans to return to the Moon. It is a project that has the potential to create new jobs, generate economic growth, and make the UK a leading player in the global space race.

Here are some of the challenges that need to be addressed to develop a nuclear reactor for the Moon:

  • The reactor must be small and lightweight enough to be transported to the Moon.
  •  The reactor must be able to operate in the harsh lunar environment.
  •  The reactor must be safe and secure.

The development of a nuclear reactor for the Moon is a complex and challenging project, but it is a project that has the potential to revolutionize space exploration.

The UK Space Agency’s funding for the Micro-Reactor programme is a significant vote of confidence in Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and the potential of nuclear power for space exploration. The project is an important step forward in the UK’s plans to return to the Moon, and it has the potential to create new jobs, generate economic growth, and make the UK One of the leading players in the global space race.

Rolls-Royce will work with various collaborators, including Oxford University, Bangor University, University of Brighton, University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) and the Nuclear AMRC. The funding means that Rolls-Royce can further strengthen its knowledge of these complex systems by focusing On the three key features of microreactors; The fuels used to generate heat, the methods of heat transfer and the technology to convert that heat into electricity.

The partnership with Rolls-Royce comes after the UK space agency recently announced the availability of £51 million in funding for UK firms to develop communications and navigation services as part of the European Space Agency’s Moonlight programme, which aims to launch a constellation of satellites in orbit around the Moon. It will allow future astronauts, rovers, science experiments and other instruments to communicate, share large amounts of data, including high-definition video, and safely navigate across the lunar surface.

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Marta Lopez

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By Marta Lopez

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