Rolls-Royce is working on a micro-reactor program “to develop technology that will provide the power necessary for humans to live and work on the Moon.”
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LONDON – The UK space agency said on Friday it would support the research Rolls-Royce Looking at the use of nuclear power on the Moon.
In a statement, the government agency said researchers at Rolls-Royce were working on a micro-reactor program “to develop technology that will provide the power necessary for humans to live and work on the Moon.”
UKSA will now provide £2.9 million (around $3.52 million) in funding for the project, which it said will “provide an initial demonstration of a UK lunar modular nuclear reactor.”
The new money builds on £249,000 provided by UKSA for a study in 2022.
“All space missions depend on a power source to support systems for communications, life-support and science experiments,” it said.
“Nuclear power has the potential to dramatically increase the duration of future lunar missions and their scientific value.”
Rolls-Royce is set to work with a number of organizations on the project, including the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Center and Nuclear AMRC and the University of Oxford.
“The development of space nuclear power provides a unique opportunity to support innovative technologies and develop our nuclear, science and space engineering skills base,” said Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency.
Bate said Rolls-Royce’s research “could lay the foundations to empower a continued human presence on the Moon, while boosting the wider UK space sector, creating jobs and generating further investment.”
According to the UKSA, Rolls-Royce is not to be confused with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, which is owned by bmw – The goal is “to have a reactor ready to be sent to the Moon by 2029.”
Dhara Patel, space specialist at the National Space Center in Leicester, England, told CNBC that returning humans to the Moon would need “a reliable power source” so astronauts “can live and work on our lunar neighbor for long-duration missions.” Can do.”
“Solar power would seem an obvious choice but the rotation of the Moon results in two weeks of dark day or night time – not ideal,” Patel explained.
“With little wind and no liquid water on the surface, other renewable sources of energy are not possible,” she said. “Nuclear energy could enable a continuous source of power regardless of the physical environment and conditions on the lunar surface.”
Patel said the use of nuclear power on the Moon could extend the lifetime of lunar missions.
“Needing careful consideration is the nuclear fuel that will be used to generate heat, how it will be responsibly sourced, how efficiently the new technology will generate electricity from the process and how to manage radioactive waste.”
“It is hoped that the additional funding from UKSA will enable Rolls-Royce to further explore these areas and develop the best possible systems.”
The news out of the UK comes at a time when NASA is moving forward with its Artemis ProgramWhich focuses on creating a “permanent presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars”.
NASA is working with international and commercial partners on Artemis. In July 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the Moon.