(ORDO NEWS) — NASA and the US Department of Energy are working together to develop space nuclear technologies.
The agencies have selected three proposals for a fission surface power system design concept that could be ready to launch by the end of this decade for demonstration on the Moon.
The contracts, which will be awarded through the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory, are valued at approximately $5 million each.
The 40-kilowatt fission-class power system is planned to operate under lunar conditions for at least 10 years.
Relatively small and lightweight compared to other power systems, fission systems are reliable and can provide continuous power regardless of location, available sunlight, and other natural environmental conditions.
The Idaho National Laboratory will award 12-month contracts to develop preliminary designs.
“The Fission Surface Power project is a very achievable first step towards the creation of nuclear power by the United States on the Moon,” said John Wagner, director of the Idaho National Laboratory.
Surface fission energy technologies will also help NASA perfect nuclear propulsion systems that rely on reactors to generate power. These systems can be used for deep space exploration missions.
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