Rolls-Royce gives permission to build a nuclear reactor on the moon

Rolls-Royce has received funding from the UK Space Agency to develop a nuclear reactor for a lunar base.

The project will explore how nuclear power could be used to support a future lunar base for astronauts.

Scientists and engineers from the British company are working on the microreactor program to develop technology that will power people to live and work on Earth’s natural satellite.

All space missions rely on a power source to support communications, life support, and science experimentation systems.

Experts suggest nuclear power could potentially drastically extend the duration of lunar missions.

The UK Space Agency has announced £2.9 million in new funding for the project, which will deliver a first demonstration of a British modular nuclear reactor on the moon.

A £249,000 study was funded by the UK Space Agency in 2022.

‘The ultimate laboratory’

Science Secretary George Freeman said: “Space exploration is the ultimate laboratory for so many of the transformational technologies we need on Earth: from materials to robotics, nutrition, cleantech and much more.

“As we prepare to see humans return to the moon for the first time in more than 50 years, we are supporting exciting research like this modular lunar reactor with Rolls-Royce to pioneer new energy sources for a lunar base.

“Partners like this between UK industry, the UK Space Agency and the government help create jobs in our £16bn space technology sector and help ensure the UK remains a major force in frontier science.”

Rolls-Royce plans to have a reactor ready to send to the moon by 2029.

Power regardless of location

The company will work with several partners, including the universities of Oxford, Bangor, Brighton and the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) and Nuclear AMRC.

Compared to other power systems, a relatively small and lightweight nuclear microreactor could provide continuous power regardless of location, available sunlight, and other environmental conditions.

Abi Clayton, Director of Future Programs for Rolls-Royce, said: “This funding will move us further in the realization of the microreactor, with the technology delivering tremendous benefits to both space and Earth.

“The technology will provide the ability to support commercial and defensive uses, in addition to providing a solution to decarbonise the industry and provide clean, safe and reliable energy.”

Dr. Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “This innovative research from Rolls-Royce could lay the groundwork for boosting continuous human presence on the moon, while improving the wider UK space sector, creating jobs and further investment. generates.”

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