NASA Seeks Ideas for a Nuclear Reactor on the Moon: All You Need to Know

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If anyone has a good idea of ​​putting a nuclear fission power plant on the Moon, the US government wants to hear about it.

NASA And the nation’s top federal nuclear research laboratory on Friday submitted a request for proposals for a fission surface power system.

NASA is collaborating with the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory to establish a Sun-independent energy source for missions to the Moon by the end of the decade.

“Providing a reliable, high-power system on the Moon is an important next step in human space exploration, and achieving this is within our grasp,” said Sebastian Corbisiero, head of the Fission Surface Power Project at the lab.

If successful in supporting a continued human presence on the Moon, the next objective would be Mars planet, NASA says that fission surface power can provide sustained, abundant power no matter the environmental conditions on the Moon or Mars.

Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said in a statement, “I expect fission surface power systems to greatly benefit our plans for power architecture for the Moon and Mars and even The innovation will also be driven for use on Earth.”

The reactor will be built on Earth and then sent to the Moon.

Submitted plans for a fission surface power system should include a uranium-fueled reactor core, a system for converting nuclear power into usable energy, a thermal management system to keep the reactor cool, and a distribution system that Provides at least 40 kW continuous. Electric power for 10 years in the lunar atmosphere.

Some other requirements include that it be able to turn itself on and off without human assistance, that it can operate from the deck of the lunar lander, and that it can be removed from the lander and operated on a mobile system and carried. be able to go To a different lunar site for operation.

Additionally, when launched from Earth to the Moon, it must fit inside a 12-foot (4-m) diameter cylinder that is 18 feet (6 m) tall. It must not weigh more than 13,200 pounds (6,000 kg).

Proposal requests are for a preliminary system design and must be submitted by 19 February.

Idaho National Laboratory has worked with NASA on various projects in the past. Most recently, the lab helped power NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance with the Radioisotope Power System, which converts the heat generated by the natural decay of plutonium-238 into electrical power.

The car-sized rover landed on Mars in February and remains active on the Red Planet.

The Department of Energy is working closely with private businesses on various nuclear power plans, particularly on a new generation of small power plants that range from small modular reactors to small mobile reactors that can be quickly installed in the field and Can then be removed when not needed.

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