USA’s plan to have Nuclear Reactor On Moon

  • IASbaba
  • December 30, 2020
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USA’s plan to have Nuclear Reactor On Moon

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Sci & tech

In news 

  • USA’s plan to have the first nuclear reactor on the moon by the end of 2026 got a new push with a recent White House directive.
  • USA President issued the “National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion.
  • US Department of Energy in collaboration with NASA also intends to solicit industry design proposals in early 2021 for the same purpose. 

Key takeaways 

  • Under the directive, NASA was asked to initiate fission surface power project for lunar surface demonstration by 2027 with scalability to a power range of 40 kilowatt-electric and higher to support a sustained lunar presence and exploration of Mars”.
  • NASA aims to establish a flight hardware system that is ready for integrating with the lunar lander by 2026-end. 
  • The fission power system — as the nuclear reactor is called — will benefit future robotic and human exploration missions to the moon as well as Mars.
  • The availability of safe, efficient, and readily available power is critical to these missions and a fission surface power system meets those requirements.
  • The fission surface power system will be fully manufactured and assembled on earth and integrated on a lander as a payload.
  • The system consists of four major subsystems including a nuclear reactor, an electric power conversion unit, heat rejection array, and power management and distribution subsystem. 
  • It will be designed to operate for up to 10 years.

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