NASA and the US Department of energy plan to find and sign a contract with an energy company that will be ready to help the space Agency build a nuclear power plant on the moon and Mars.
According to CNBC, the program is still under development, but NASA hopes that nuclear reactors will go to the moon in 2026. The launch of the power plant is also planned for 2026.
The main goal of the project will be to maintain power supply in scientific laboratories in Space.
It is expected that four nuclear power plants will be assembled on Earth and then transported to space, where each of them will provide 10 kilowatts of energy. As noted by CNBC, this amount of energy is enough for three country houses on Earth, so it is enough to contain the equipment and housing of the crew.
Steve Johnson, Director of the Department of space nuclear power and isotope technologies at the Idaho national laboratory, is positive: “Years of research and development in advanced fuels and materials, as well as recent advances in commercial space transportation, will significantly reduce the risk to the schedule we need to meet by 2026.”
However, the program already has critics who say that it would be more logical, easier and cheaper to use solar energy. Proponents of nuclear power point out that long nights and highly variable sunlight on other planets will make renewable energy sources unreliable.
“These missions to the moon and Mars may require the use of multiple systems at once. Various solar, battery, radioisotope, and nuclear power systems to power a wide range of operations,”
-said Anthony Calomino, Manager of the nuclear systems division at NASA’s space technology Administration.