Nuclear power coming soon… to the Moon?

Why not?


NASA recently put out a request, asking for proposals for a “fission surface power system”.


This, “fission surface power system”, is intended to serve as the propellant for what is being called NASA’s, “Artemis Programme”.  The objective of this program being to expand beyond earthly capacity for development, and surpass this, starting with permanent bases on Mar’s and Luna respectively.


With embed infrastructure upon such planets and planetoids, NASA will be able to be able to extend operations upon these derelict locations, allowing for astronauts to spend there about, or in excess of two months at a time, living within a operational facility on the Moon.  With bases propped up upon the either upon the surface, or embedded within the crust of alien rock, it is believed that such stations would be able to service as, “jumping-off points”, for future missions of space exploration, enabling us to move further and more effectively, as opposed to the land locked Earth-bound rocket propulsion missions of the 20th century.


Now, this may seem far-fetched, as this being the work of a volume of science fiction, but this is more down to Earth than you may come to think, at least upon first glance.


100 years ago, people of the world back then, may well have thought it was impossible to propel outwards into space, let alone walk upon the surface of the Moon.  But advancement and human race’s uncanny ability to dream up such ideas in the works of science fiction and then eventually years later to see them realised in this exciting cycle of human ingenuity.


This has long been the ultimate aspiration of space agencies around the world, irrespective of nation, and offers very lucrative rewards throughout all of the excitement, including but not limited to mining the ore of foreign planetoids and harvesting their precious materials old and new.


The Rolls-Royce British aerospace company, has already unveiled plans for a nuclear-powered “Moon mining” operation.  This prospects of this are very exciting indeed.


And if that wasn’t enough, NASA yesterday launched it’s DART rocket ship, with the intention to collide with a astride and divert its trajectory, as a test to see whether this is a viable solution should the plot line of the 90’s film Armageddon come to pass.


This is real, happening right now.


Presently, there are many challenges in the technology in creating a working nuclear propulsion system that would be able to function under some very extreme temperatures.  2,500 C and more, to be more specific.


So why Nuclear, why not alternate energy?


Renewable energy sources have of course been considered, but they have their limitations here on Earth, and onboard foreign worlds, these pro’s and con’s change dependent upon their environment significantly.


As far as the Moon is concerned, one single lunar night can last up to 14 days, making solar power largely redundant.  Fission garnered nuclear energy on the other hand, is much more reliable and consistent to offer the power needed for space agency operations


“Fission surface power – in conjunction with solar cells, batteries, and fuel cells – can provide the power to operate rovers, conduct experiments, and use the Moon’s resources to produce water, propellant, and other supplies for life support,” NASA said.


And any viable proposal would have to adhere to the following specification;


  • Reactors would need to fit inside a cylindrical container 4 meters wide and 6m long, and cannot be heavier than 6,000kg
  • Cylinders must be transportable, to be taken from landing site to reactor location, whereof forty kilowatts of continuous power will be needed for up to ten years
  • No reliance upon external power or robotic support, not astronaut involvement, system start-up, shutdown, operation, or maintenance


An apt challenge!


It’s interesting to think that Nuclear could well be at the heart of space travel for in the years that lie ahead, for the future generations!!!


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