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In recent years, there has been a growing interest in space exploration and the potential of establishing human settlements on other celestial bodies, particularly the moon. However, the ability to generate sufficient power for such missions has been a significant challenge. To overcome this, some experts have suggested the idea of putting a nuclear reactor on the moon.
The concept of using nuclear power to generate electricity in space is not new, but it has become increasingly relevant as space agencies and private companies aim to establish long-term human presence on the moon. In this context, the UK Space Agency’s decision to fund Rolls-Royce’s research into the use of nuclear power on the moon is a significant development that highlights the potential of this technology in powering future lunar missions according to Anmar Frangoul of CNBC.com.
UK Backing Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce’s research into the use of nuclear power on the moon has received support from the UK Space Agency, as announced on Friday. According to a statement by the government agency, researchers from Rolls-Royce have been developing a Micro-Reactor program aimed at creating technology that can generate the necessary power for human habitation and work on the moon.
The UKSA has pledged £2.9 million (approximately $3.52 million) in funding to enable the project to showcase an initial demonstration of a UK lunar modular nuclear reactor. This new funding builds on the £249,000 provided by the UKSA for a study in 2022.
The agency highlighted that nuclear power has the potential to significantly extend the duration of future lunar missions while also increasing their scientific value, as all space missions require a reliable power source to support communication systems, life-support, and scientific experiments.
Plans Moving Forward
Rolls-Royce will be collaborating with several institutions on this project, including the Nuclear AMRC and the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the University of Oxford. The CEO of the UK Space Agency, Paul Bate, stated that the development of space nuclear power presents an opportunity to promote innovative technologies and expand the UK’s nuclear, science, and space engineering capabilities.
Bate further added that Rolls-Royce’s research may provide the foundation for sustaining a continuous human presence on the Moon, while also benefiting the broader UK space industry by creating jobs and attracting more investment.
The UKSA has revealed that Rolls-Royce aims to have a nuclear reactor ready for deployment on the Moon by 2029. It is important to note that this Rolls-Royce is a different entity than Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, which is owned by BMW.
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