NASA attracts three companies to develop nuclear power plants for the Moon

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Nuclear fission may have to overcome a public perception hurdle here on Earth to get the funding and development it needs to move forward enough to help us in our decarburization efforts, but a largely empty lunar surface sidesteps many of the image problems of nuclear power. NASA announced on Tuesday that it is contracting three vendors to provide concept designs for nuclear power systems for use on the Moon.

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The winning entries for this award came from Lockheed Martin, Westinghouse and IX (a joint venture between Intuitive Machines and X-Energy). Each will work with several partners to develop their systems, which will be “initial concepts” for the purposes of this particular contract only, and each will receive approximately $5 million for their work, which is expected to take approximately 12 months.

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NASA is working well with the Department of Energy (DOE) on this project, and the specifications include a 40 kilowatt power generation capability capable of generating it for at least ten years. That’s about what a full charge of the current entry-level Nissan Leaf holds, but as a fission generator, it will obviously provide that all the time.

It may not sound like much, but deploying individually or in groups to support a lunar base could solve a lot of the long-term lunar dwelling problems that NASA plans to eventually fix with its Artemis program, which aims to bring back people to our largest natural satellite for ongoing scientific missions.

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Conditions on the Moon (and, for that matter, on Mars) exaggerate many of the problems we face here on Earth with other energy sources such as solar power: namely, they must be able to work stably. regardless of the presence of sunlight and in harsh conditions.

NASA also notes that the work completed under this contract may have other future applications for propulsion systems for long-range spacecraft for deep space exploration.


Credit: techcrunch.com /

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