The United Kingdom’s Rolls-Royce plc has received funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a nuclear reactor suitable for use in a lunar base. This reactor would be the first of its kind, allowing a sustained presence on the moon through the generation of electricity, heat, and water from nuclear power.
The reactor, dubbed the Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology (KRUSTY), is designed to be a lightweight, low-cost nuclear power source for lunar bases. It will use a modified version of Rolls-Royce’s current nuclear reactor designs, which are typically used for submarines and aircraft carriers. The reactor will be designed to withstand the extreme temperatures and radiation levels on the moon’s surface.
The reactor is expected to generate up to 40 kilowatts of electrical power and up to 70 kilowatts of thermal power. This will be used to power the base, as well as desalinate lunar water and produce oxygen and hydrogen for use as rocket fuel. Additionally, the reactor will be able to function autonomously, meaning that it will be able to operate without direct human intervention.
This project is part of a larger ESA initiative that is aiming to create a sustainable presence on the moon. The ESA is partnering with various organizations, including Rolls-Royce, to develop technologies that are necessary for a long-term human presence on the moon. These technologies include robotic rovers, 3D printing, and autonomous systems.
Rolls-Royce is hopeful that the KRUSTY reactor will be a significant step forward in the development of lunar bases. The company is confident that it can develop a reliable and safe nuclear power source for use on the moon. If successful, the reactor could pave the way for a sustained human presence on the lunar surface.