NASA Selects 3 Fission Design Concepts for a Power Supply on the Moon
The goal is a lightweight power source capable of running regardless location, weather, sunlight, or other natural resources.
NASA and the Department of Energy (DOE) have chosen three design concept proposals for a nuclear fission surface power system that could be launch-ready by 2030 for a demonstration on the Moon.
Awarded through the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory, each of the three contracts is valued at around $5 million for the development of design concepts of a 40-kilowatt-class fission power system: enough to continuously run 30 households for 10 years.
The three contract winners are Lockheed Martin of Maryland (partnering with BWXT and Creare), Westinghouse of Pennsylvania (partnering with Aerojet Rocketdyne), and IX of Texas—a joint venture of Intuitive Machines and X-Energy (partnering with Maxar and Boeing).
Relatively small and lightweight, fission systems can enable continuous power, regardless of location, weather, sunlight, or other natural resources. The agency’s fission surface power initiative expands on five decades of heritage projects, including Kilopower, which ended in 2018.
“New technology drives our exploration to the Moon, Mars, and beyond,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “Developing these early designs will help us lay the groundwork for powering our long-term human presence on other worlds.”
Fission surface power technologies will also help NASA mature nuclear propulsion systems that rely on reactors to generate power, paving the way for more deep space exploration missions.
This project is managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio; development is funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Technology Demonstration Missions program, located at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.
Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.