NASA’s Nuclear Moon: The First Step in Colonizing the Moon

NASA has announced the completion of the initial design phase of its Fission Surface Power Project.
moon photography

NASA’s New Energy

NASA has announced that their design phase of a stable energy source to power moon camps have been finished. The exploration of fission surface power has the potential to enable sustainable operations not just on the Moon but also on Mars in the future. In 2022, NASA allocated three $5 million contracts to industry partners to develop conceptual designs for small nuclear fission reactors for deployment on the Moon. These nuclear plants have reliable, clean, and safe energy that can power camps with 2 or 3.

What is This New Reactor?

The outlined model specification for the reactor required a weight of under six metric tons and the capability to generate 40 kilowatts (kW) of electrical power. This much electricity will be sufficient for demonstration purposes, with extra power available to power lunar houses, rovers, backup grids, or research missions. In the United States, 40 kW can power an average of 33 houses, so having the capabilities to power this much electricity can help these reactors that operate autonomously.

When Will This Reactor Be Used?

NASA has stated that these reactors prove advantageous as a power source since the technology can be installed in permanently shadowed areas of the Moon. There is still a technical challenge posed by the 14-and-a-half Earth-day-long lunar night, so having a power source independent of the Sun is crucial for extended exploration and scientific effort. A nuclear power system could operate constantly throughout long, harsh lunar nights, making these reactors perfect for lunar excursion and power. Following the completion of Phase 2 in 2025, the anticipated timeline for delivering a reactor to the launch pad is set for the early 2030s.


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