Agencies have selected three concepts for the design of a nuclear reactor that could be placed on the surface of the Moon. The concepts could be ready for launch by the end of 2030, five years after Artemis sends a man to the moon again, writes FutureTimeline.
The contracts, to be awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy, are estimated at $ 5 million and would fund initial projects for a 40-kilowatt fission energy system, which should last at least 10 years in a lunar environment.
Relatively small and lightweight compared to other power plants, fission systems are reliable and can provide continuous power regardless of location, available sunlight and other weather conditions. If some of them managed to provide the necessary amount of energy, it would be a big step to organize longer research missions on the Moon, but also on Mars.
“New technology will advance our exploration of the Moon, Mars and potentially other planets. The development of such reactors is the first step in the long-term stay of man in space, ”said Jim Reuter, Assistant Administrator of NASA’s Space Missions Technology Directorate.
The companies that won three contracts are Lockheed Martin, Westinghouse and IX (a joint venture of Intuitive Machines and X-Energy).