NASA is trying to come up with space nuclear technologies soon. And, to work on such efforts, the space agency has collaborated with the US Department of Energy (DOE). The agencies have selected three design concept proposals for the contracts, each of which could be valued at approximately $5 million. The proposals are for a fragmentation surface power system design. These designs can be brought to life in a span of a decade. By the end of a decade, they will be ready to perform on the Moon.
This technology will help in future exploration and will be covered under the Artemis umbrella. Contracts for these design proposals will be awarded through DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory. According to NASA’s website, the contract will fund the initial development of design concepts “for a 40-kW class fission power system planned to last for at least 10 years in the lunar atmosphere.”
NASA is focusing on fission technology because they are smaller and more lightweight than other power systems. Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said, “New technology advances our exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond. Developing these early designs will help us to empower our long-term human presence on other worlds.” It will help to lay the groundwork for it.”
John Wagner, director of the Idaho National Laboratory, said, “The Fragmentation Surface Power Project is a very achievable first step toward the United States toward establishing nuclear power on the Moon. I look forward to seeing what each of these teams do. will achieve.”
The request for proposal development, evaluation and procurement was sponsored by NASA and led by the Battle Energy Alliance, the managing and operating contractor for the Idaho National Laboratory.
The Phase 1 award by NASA will provide the space agency with important information from industry. This could soon lead to “the joint development of a complete flight-certified fission power system”. Fission surface power technologies will help the agency come up with a mature nuclear propulsion system. These systems could be used for future deep space exploration missions.