The US-based space agency NASA and the country’s Department of Energy (DOE) have joined hands to create feasible space nuclear technologies. Both agencies also have three design concept proposals for a fission surface power system design. According to NASA, the system could be completed by the end of the decade for launch on the moon.
This technology will provide immense help under the Artemis umbrella. The contracts, which will be provided by the department’s Idaho National Laboratory, are valued at USD 5 million each. According to NASA, the contracts will fund the development of initial design concepts for a 40-kilowatt class fission power system that will stay at least 10 years in moon.
These fission systems , which are smaller in size and lightweight in comparison to other power systems, are not only reliable but can also enable power constantly notwithstanding the occasion, availability of sunlight, and other natural conditions. Importantly, demonstrations of such systems may help in future missions of Mars and the moon.
According to Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, “New technology drives our exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
“Developing these early designs will help us lay the groundwork for powering our long-term human presence on other worlds, ” he added. Idaho National Laboratory’s managing and operating contractor, Battelle Energy Alliance, has led the request for proposal development, along with the evaluation and procurement sponsored by the US space agency, NASA said on its website. Also, Idaho National Laboratory has decided to award a number of companies for development of preliminary designs.
Among these include, Lockheed Martin of Bethesda (Maryland), Westinghouse of Cranberry Township (Pennsylvania) and IX of Houston, Texas, a joint venture of Intuitive Machines and X-Energy. “The Fission Surface Power project is a very achievable first step toward the United States establishing nuclear power on the Moon,” said John Wagner, Director, Idaho National Laboratory.
He further said, “I look forward to seeing what each of these teams will accomplish.”