The UK Space Agency has decided to continue funding a Rolls-Royce project to create a small nuclear reactor that could serve as a long-term power source for lunar bases.
The new boost to Rolls-Royce’s research boat follows an earlier $303,495 (£249,000) study funded by the UK Space Agency in 2022. With the new funding, the company hopes to have a demonstration model for a microreactor modular ready to deliver to Moon by 2029.
On a March 17 Press release (opens in a new tab)Rolls-Royce and the UK Space Agency say the microjet program will help “develop technology that will provide the power humans need to live and work on the moon.”
Related: Rolls-Royce Submits Early Stage Design for Space Nuclear Reactor
Continued research will focus on three critical aspects of the microreactor: generating heat, transferring that heat, and converting that heat into usable power.
“This groundbreaking research from Rolls-Royce could lay the groundwork for driving continued human presence on the moonsaid Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, in the press release.
There is also the question of equipping the microreactor to work in the lunar environment. Currently, most space travel is powered by solar energy. A nuclear power source allows for greater mission versatility and less reliance on Sun.
To help Rolls-Royce’s scientists and engineers, the company has partnered with Oxford University, Bangor University, Brighton University, Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) and Nuclear AMRC.
“Partnerships like this, between UK industry, the UK Space Agency and government, are helping to create jobs in our £16 billion space technology sector and helping to ensure the UK remains a major force in cutting-edge science,” George Freeman, Minister of State in the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, said in the March 17 press release.
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