Monday, November 29, 2021
Nov. 29, 2021

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NASA seeks ideas for nuclear reactor on moon

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BOISE, Idaho — If anyone has a good idea on how to put a nuclear fission power plant on the moon, the U.S. government wants to hear about it.

NASA and the nation’s top federal nuclear research lab on Friday put out a request for proposals for a fission surface power system.

NASA is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory to establish a sun-independent power source for missions to the moon by the end of the decade.

“Providing a reliable, high-power system on the moon is a vital next step in human space exploration, and achieving it is within our grasp,” Sebastian Corbisiero, the Fission Surface Power Project lead at the lab, said in a statement.

If successful in supporting a sustained human presence on the moon, the next objective would be Mars.

NASA says fission surface power could provide sustained, abundant power no matter the environmental conditions on the moon or Mars.

Submitted plans for the fission surface power system should include a uranium-fueled reactor core, a system to convert the nuclear power into usable energy, a thermal management system to keep the reactor cool, and a distribution system providing no less than 40 kilowatts of continuous electric power for 10 years in the lunar environment.

The proposal requests are for an initial system design and must be submitted by Feb. 19.

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