NASA is moving forward with its plan to power lunar and Martian settlements with small nuclear reactors.
Now, the US Department of Energy and NASA are accepting proposals from contractors for nuclear fission facilities that can operate safely on the moon, Cnbc Report. The program is still in its infancy, but NASA hopes to have the reactors up and running on the lunar surface by 2026, where they will maintain scientific outposts for a long time.
The proposed nuclear power plants would be assembled on Earth and then taken to space, where they would each provide 10 kilowatts of electricity for a decade, Cnbc Report. It is equivalent to about three large houses on Earth, and enough to contain the equipment and habitat of a lunar crew. And NASA hopes that it will not take any new technology to meet the target.
“We are able to leverage research and development work on advanced fuels and materials as well as recent commercial space transport advances to meet the 2026 date,” said Steve Johnson, director of Space Nuclear Power and Isotopes. Technologies Division at Idaho National Laboratory reported Cnbc.
Program critics pointed out Cnbc It makes sense to rely on solar energy instead. But nuclear advocates say that long nights and other highly variable sunlight will make renewable objects unreliable.
Anthony Calomino, head of NASA’s nuclear technology portfolio, said, “These missions can demand a variety of solar, battery, radio isotope and fission power systems.” Cnbc.
Read more: Why NASA wants to install nuclear power plant on moon [CNBC]
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