Think You Can Build a Nuclear Power Plant On the Moon?

If so, NASA would like to hear from you
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2021 7:20 PM CST
Think You Can Build a Nuclear Power Plant On the Moon?
The earth's shadow covers the full moon during a partial lunar eclipse, early Nov. 19. NASA and the nation's top federal nuclear research lab on Friday, Nov. 19, put out a request for proposals for a fission surface power system.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

NASA wants there to be a nuclear power plant on the moon, and it needs your help. The goal is to build a fission reactor within 10 years, and the plan is to get someone else to get it started, the AP reports. In a statement, Battelle Energy Alliance and NASA say they’re looking for proposals, presumably from engineers who actually know what they're doing, to "establish a durable, high-power, sun-independent power source for NASA missions on the moon by the end of the decade, as well as potential subsequent missions." The thinking, apparently, is once there’s a power source on the moon, expanding space exploration will be easier. And, there’s the possibility that whatever technological innovation ensues can be used down here, too. "I expect fission surface power systems to greatly benefit our plans for power architectures for the moon and Mars and even drive innovation for uses here on Earth," said Jim Reuter of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate.

The sky is not the limit here, though—there are guidelines. NASA is only interested in a uranium-powered fission reactor. It has to be designed to be built on Earth and then sent to the moon. And it has to be cool. Not cool as in really nifty and sci-fi looking—it has to withstand the extreme lunar temperatures. The moon can hit 260 degrees F during the day, Live Science reports. The request for proposals comes during a time when NASA is tweaking its timeline for the $93 billion Artemis Project, which starts with plans for returning to the moon and could lead to a sustained human presence there, CBS News reports. (More NASA stories.)

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