The British luxury car manufacturer, Rolls-Royce, has received government funding to develop a miniature nuclear reactor for use in lunar exploration. The project is part of a larger initiative by the United Kingdom to explore the potential for lunar-based manufacturing.
The reactor, known as the Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology (KRUSTY), will be a key component of the mission to explore the Moon’s resources and potential for manufacturing. According to the company, the KRUSTY will provide up to 10 kilowatts of energy, enough to power a small settlement on the lunar surface.
The project is being funded by the United Kingdom’s space agency, the UK Space Agency, and the funding is expected to total around £1.5 million. Rolls-Royce will be responsible for the reactor’s design and engineering, while the UK Space Agency will provide funding and oversight.
The KRUSTY reactor will be a critical component of any future lunar mission. It is expected to provide long-term, reliable power to enable equipment and experiments to run over a long period of time.
Rolls-Royce’s Nuclear Power Group will use its experience in developing and operating nuclear-powered submarines to design and engineer the KRUSTY reactor. The reactor will be designed to be lightweight, modular, and easy to transport and deploy. It will also be designed to be highly reliable, with a safe shutdown mode in the event of an emergency.
The KRUSTY reactor is expected to be ready for launch in the early 2020s, with the first lunar mission expected to take place in 2025. The project is part of the UK’s strategy to be at the forefront of lunar exploration and exploitation. The UK Space Agency is also investing in other lunar-related projects, such as the development of a lunar rover.
Rolls-Royce’s Nuclear Power Group has a long history of developing and operating nuclear-powered submarines and is now turning its attention to developing nuclear-powered spacecraft. The KRUSTY reactor is a key step in realizing the UK’s ambition to explore and exploit the Moon’s resources.