Rolls-Royce secured 2.9 million, or $3.5 million, from the U.K. Space Agency to develop a nuclear reactor to power a base on the Moon.
The British company is known for designing, developing, manufacturing and servicing integrated power systems for air, land and sea use, and operates its business in civil aerospace, power systems and defense.
The power systems segment of the business includes engines, power systems and nuclear systems for power generation, while the defense segment consists of military aero engines, naval engines, submarines and more.
Scientists and engineers at the company are working on a micro-reactor program to develop the technology needed to live and work in a lunar environment.
Nuclear power can increase the longevity of future missions on the Moon, according to a press release from the UK Space Agency.
The 2.9 million in funding from the agency is intended to be used by Rolls-Royce in the development and demonstration of a modular nuclear reactor for the Moon, and it follows a 249,000, or $304,000 study funded by the UK Space Agency last year.
From materials to robotics, nutrition to clean tech, and much more, space exploration is the ultimate laboratory for so many of the transformational technologies we need on Earth, according to George Freeman, Minister of State at the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology. As we prepare to see humans return to the Moon for the first time in more than 50 years, we are backing exciting research like this lunar modular reactor with Rolls-Royce to pioneer new power sources for a lunar base. Rolls-Royce will have a reactor ready to launch to the moon by the year 2029, if all goes as planned.
A nuclear micro-reactor will be small and lightweight compared to other power systems and could provide power regardless of environmental conditions and location.
Rolls-Royce is not alone in this endeavor. They are working with the University of Oxford, the University of Bangor, the University of Brighton, the Advanced Manufacturing Center AMRC and Nuclear AMRC.
Funding will allow Rolls-Royce to investigate heat transfer methods, technology that can covert heat into power, and fuel needed to generate heat.
It will allow Rolls-Royce to create a type of energy that is compatible in multiple markets that is clean and green.
The UK Space Agency said we are backing technology and capabilities to support ambitious space exploration missions and boost sector growth in the U.K. Dr. Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency. A unique opportunity to support innovative technologies and to grow our nuclear, science and space engineering skills base is offered by developing space nuclear power.
This innovative research by Rolls-Royce could create jobs and boost the UK space sector, while creating jobs and generating further investment. The U.K. Space Agency is planning to launch a constellation of satellites into space around the moon and is developing communication and navigation services for missions to the Moon.