UK Space Agency announced £2.9 million of new funding for a nuclear micro-reactor by Rolls-Royce. They want nuclear power to support a future Moon base for astronauts. This follows a £249,000 study funded by the UK Space Agency in 2022. Rolls-Royce plan to have a reactor ready to send to the Moon by 2029.
Scientists and engineers at Rolls-Royce are working on the Micro-Reactor program to develop technology that will provide power needed for humans to live and work on the Moon. All space missions depend on a power source, to support systems for communications, life-support and science experiments. Nuclear power has the potential to dramatically increase the duration of future Lunar missions and their scientific value.
A Rolls-Royce Micro-Reactor is designed to use an inherently safe and extremely robust fuel form. Each uranium particle is encapsulated in multiple protective layers that act as a containment system, allowing it to withstand extreme conditions.https://t.co/OOc9kBGXDx pic.twitter.com/wkXmZgzhrs
— Rolls-Royce (@RollsRoyce) January 27, 2023
The US has been looking at nuclear micro-reactors for space missions. NASA has been developing the kilopower system.
NASA’s fission surface power project expands on Kilopower’s work and results, focusing on a 10-kilowatt class lunar demonstration in the late 2020s. The prototype power system used a solid, cast uranium-235 reactor core, about the size of a paper towel roll. Passive sodium heat pipes transfer reactor heat to high-efficiency Stirling engines, which convert the heat to electricity.
NASA and DARPA have other plans to build a functioning nuclear thermal rocket by 2027.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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