Rolls-Royce has recently secured funding for the continued development of a micro-reactor that could potentially be used to power a future base on the Moon.
The British engineering firm recently announced that it has obtained a substantial sum from the European Space Agency (ESA) to further progress its work on the nuclear-powered propulsion system designed to supply energy to a lunar base.
The reactor would be able to produce both electricity and liquid propulsion fuel, thus allowing spacecraft to take off and land on the lunar surface.
Rolls-Royce is one of several companies that have been researching the potential of nuclear-powered micro-reactors. The firm has been working on the project since 2019, and the new funds will help to accelerate its development.
The reactor is designed to be compact and highly efficient, with the capacity to produce up to 10 kilowatts of electrical power, enough to keep a small base running. It would also be able to generate up to 250 kW of thrust, allowing a lunar lander to take off and land with ease.
The micro-reactor is based on Rolls-Royce’s existing nuclear fission technology, which has been used for decades in the aerospace industry. The firm has been able to leverage its experience and expertise to design a power system that is both reliable and efficient.
The reactor is also designed to be safe and secure, with multiple safeguards in place to ensure that it does not cause any environmental damage. The technology has been tested extensively in simulated lunar conditions and is expected to be ready for deployment in the next few years.
The funding from the ESA will enable Rolls-Royce to continue to refine the design of the reactor and to explore its potential applications in space exploration. The firm believes that the micro-reactor could prove invaluable in helping to build a sustainable, self-sufficient base on the Moon.