Nuclear Power Plant on the Moon; NASA invites innovative proposals

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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US Space entity, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the nation’s top federal nuclear research lab have released a request for proposals (RFP) for a fission surface power system on the moon.

NASA is working with the Idaho National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy to develop a sun-independent power source for lunar missions by the end of the decade. Any good concepts on how to put a nuclear fission power plant on the moon are welcomed by the entities.

NASA Nuclear Reactor
Illustration of a sun-independent power source for lunar missions

According to NASA, fission surface power could offer sustained, abundant power no matter the moon’s environmental conditions. The reactor would be built on the Earth before being transported to the moon. After establishing a sustained human presence on the moon, Mars would be the next preferred destination. 

The submitted plans for the fission surface power system should include a uranium-fueled reactor core, a system to convert the nuclear power into usable energy, a thermal management system to keep the reactor cool, and a distribution system providing no less than 40 kilowatts of continuous electric power for 10 years in the lunar environment.

Nuclear Reactor on Moon

Other specifications include the ability to switch itself off and on without human assistance, the capacity to operate from the deck of a lunar lander, and that it can be removed from the lander and run on a mobile system and be transported to a different lunar site for operation. 

It should also fit into a 4-meter diameter, 6-meter long cylinder when launched from Earth to the moon and it should not exceed 6,000 kilograms in weight. The proposal requests for an initial system design must be submitted by February 19, the entities said.

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