UK Space Agency Funds Rolls-Royce’s Lunar Nuclear Reactor

As mankind turns its gaze once again to the moon, British aerospace company Rolls-Royce Holdings continues its work on developing nuclear energy sources for space travel and exploration. Today the company announced funding from the UK Space Agency to advance research and development of a nuclear reactor that will power a future base on the moon.

The British Space Agency provided Rolls-Royce Holdings with £2.9 million, that is about $3.5 million, according to a press release from the Agency. Rolls-Royce in its elaborated release that the funding will consist of studying the fuel that the reactor will use to generate heat, studying ways to transfer that heat and evaluating the technologies needed to convert that heat into electricity. The reactor could be used to power rovers, communications systems and scientific experiments on the lunar surface. Rolls-Royce hopes to have the nuclear reactor ready by 2029 to send it to the moon.

“As we prepare to see humans return to the moon for the first time in more than 50 years, we are supporting exciting research like this modular lunar reactor with Rolls-Royce to develop new power sources for a lunar base,” said George Freeman. Minister of state at the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, in the U.K Space Agency press release.

Related article: NASA will soon reveal who is flying to the moon for the Artemis 2 mission

Rolls-Royce teased the design of a nuclear reactor for space travel on Twitter early last month. Nuclear reactors were used to power things like submarines for years, but the application of the technology to space travel has often been overlooked in favor of chemical-based propulsion. A working version of the recently introduced microreactor mock up would be used primarily for space travel, but the company mentioned at the time that the design could be used for bases on the moon.

Rolls-Royce Holdings is no stranger to nuclear reactor design signed a contract in 2012 with the uK Ministry of Defense to implement a nuclear reactor in the ministry successor Submarine. And indeed, the company’s involvement in nuclear-powered submarines comes from 1960s. 2021, Rolls-Royce Holdings secured $600 million in public and private funding for his continued work in the nuclear reactor industry.

The company — not to be confused with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, which is owned by BMW — used that money to initially begin developing “low-cost, low-carbon nuclear power technology,” the company explained in a 2021 press release. However, these small modular reactors would be right here on Earth, and the company claims the power plants could cover the area of ​​two soccer fields and power a million homes.

Follow us for more space travel in your life Twitter and bookmarks for Gizmodo’s dedicated space travel book page. UK Space Agency Funds Rolls-Royce’s Lunar Nuclear Reactor

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