Do you or a buddy know how to construct a uranium-fueled nuclear reactor that will fit inside a 12-foot-long by 18-foot-wide (4-by-6-meter) rocket? Will you be able to complete the project by the end of the decade? If that’s the case, NASA and the US Department of Energy want to hear from you.
Demand by the Collaboration
Idaho National Laboratory (INL) of the Department of Energy is collaborating with NASA, according to a release. Within the next ten years, they hope to have a “durable, high-power, sun-independent” fission reactor on the moon. The two organizations are presently seeking ideas from outside partners to help them get this ambitious initiative off the ground, with a deadline of February 19, 2022.
According to agency experts, this hypothetical reactor would aid in transforming the moon into an interplanetary base for human space exploration, including future manned journeys to Mars.
In a statement, Jim Reuter, assistant administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., stated, “Plenty of energy will be crucial to future space exploration.” “I believe that fission surface power systems will have a significant impact on power designs for the moon and Mars, as well as driving innovation for usage on Earth.”
Basic Parameters Considered
Some fundamental parameters are included in the request for bids. The suggested reactor must be a fission reactor fuelled by uranium. This refers to a device that can split heavy atomic nuclei into lighter nuclei while also releasing energy.
The reactor must weigh no more than 13,200 pounds (6,000 kilograms) and be small enough to fit into the rocket’s specifications. The reactor will be made on Earth and launched for the moon, wherein it will be expected to produce 40 kilowatts of constant electric power for nearly a decade. To keep the device cool, the reactor must include temperature controls. During the day, the temperature on the moon can reach over 260 degrees Fahrenheit (127 degrees Celsius).
The solicitation comes as NASA ramps up its Artemis mission, which intends to establish a long-term human presence on the moon by the end of the decade. The cost of the initiative, which aims to send people back to the moon for the first time since 1972, is anticipated to be over $93 billion.