Reactor on Moon: solution for outer space exploration
Lunar 3
Rolls-Royce received GBP 2.9 mln from the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) to develop a demo version of the micro-reactor possible to use for supplying power to the space station on the Moon. The fully-featured analogue will be ready for sending to the Earth satellite by 2029.

The photo is sourced from

The demo version development will be the second stage of the project commenced in 2021, when UKSA granted Rolls Royce GBP 249 K to explore the possibility of building a micro-reactor fit for using not only in outer space, but on Earth as well (to supply energy to minor commercial consumers). The second stage of the studies will provide the solutions for the type of fuel to be loaded into the reactor to generate heat, what will be used as a coolant, and what technology will be used to convert heat into energy.

Nuclear reactors development is one of the business lines of Rolls-Royce. In 2021, the company established a business unit – Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactors (SMR) with the purpose to organise small modular reactors manufacturing. Their size will be equal to two football pitches and they will be able to cover the energy needs of about one million households.

Micro-reactors may get commercial distribution in 2030-s. For example, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries from Japan plans to develop a 500 KW micro-reactor, with the weight up to 40 tons, and the height and the width – 3×4 metres. The unit will resemble a capsule, which can be transported by a truck and stored underground. Highly enriched uranium will be used as fuel, which will not need replacement during the entire operating cycle of the reactor, i.e., 25 years, and solid graphite material will perform as coolant instead of water. This will provide for high level of safety: in case of an accident the redundant heat will be disseminated due to natural ambient cooling.


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March 2023