Rolls-Royce receives funding to develop a nuclear reactor for lunar exploration
The project will investigate how nuclear power could be used to support a future base on the moon for astronauts.
Scientists and engineers from the British company are working on the Micro-Reactor program to develop technology that will provide the energy people need to live and work on Earth’s natural satellite.
All space missions depend on a power source to support systems for communications, life support, and scientific experimentation.
Experts believe that nuclear power could potentially dramatically increase the duration of moon missions.
Space exploration is the ultimate laboratory for so many of the transformational technologies we need on Earth: from materials to robotics, nutrition, cleantech and more
The UK Space Agency has announced new £2.9million funding for the project, which will provide a first demonstration of a UK modular lunar reactor.
This follows a £249,000 study funded by the UK Space Agency in 2022.
Science Secretary George Freeman said: “Space exploration is the ultimate laboratory for so many of the transformational technologies we need on Earth: from materials to robotics, nutrition, cleantech and more.
“As we prepare to see humans return to the moon for the first time in more than 50 years, we are supporting exciting research like this modular lunar reactor with Rolls-Royce to develop new energy sources for a lunar base.
“Partnerships like this between UK industry, the UK Space Agency and Government help create jobs in our £16 billion space technology sector and ensure the UK remains a major force in frontier science.”
Rolls-Royce plans to have a reactor ready to be sent to the moon by 2029.
It will work with a variety of partners including the University of Oxford, the University of Bangor, the University of Brighton, the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) and Nuclear AMRC.
This funding will take us further in the realization of the microreactor, with the technology bringing immense benefits to space and Earth
Compared to other power systems, a relatively small and lightweight nuclear microreactor could provide continuous power supply regardless of location, available sunlight, and other environmental conditions.
Abi Clayton, director of future programs at Rolls-Royce, said: “This funding will take us further forward in the realization of the microreactor, the technology bringing immense benefits to space and Earth.
“The technology will provide the ability to support commercial and military use cases while providing a solution to decarbonize industry and provide clean, safe and reliable energy.”
dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “This innovative research by Rolls-Royce could lay the groundwork for the continued presence of humans on the Moon, while strengthening the UK’s broader space sector, creating jobs and attracting further investment. ”
https://www.standard.co.uk/business/business-news/rollsroyce-receives-funding-to-develop-nuclear-reactor-for-moon-exploration-b1067985.html Rolls-Royce receives funding to develop a nuclear reactor for lunar exploration