Rolls-Royce Relocates to the Moon by 2029
The British industrial group Rolls-Royce has announced that it has received £2.9 million (€3.3 million) in funding from the UK Space Agency to develop small nuclear reactors for future lunar bases.
“Rolls-Royce’s scientists and engineers are working on a small reactor program to develop a technology that will provide the necessary energy for people to live and work on the Moon,” the company said in a statement. The group anticipates that the first reactor, roughly the size of a car, will be ready to be sent to the Moon by 2029.
Approximately 50 years after the last Apollo mission, humanity’s return to the Moon is becoming a reality: NASA announced in early March that the Artemis 2 mission will carry astronauts around Earth’s satellite in November 2024.
The Artemis 3 mission, during which astronauts will land on the lunar surface, is officially scheduled for 2025. NASA and Axiom Space presented the new spacesuits that these astronauts will wear on Wednesday in Houston.
“Nuclear energy has the potential to significantly increase the duration and scientific value of future Moon missions,” Rolls-Royce assured, adding that it will collaborate with British universities, including Oxford.
The funding announced on Friday adds to the £249,000 contributed by the UK Space Agency in 2022. The new amount will enable the company to carry out a first demonstration of a lunar modular nuclear reactor.
Furthermore, Rolls-Royce is developing small modular reactors for electricity production on Earth, primarily as part of the UK’s plans to accelerate the construction of new nuclear power plants in the country.
In January, NASA also announced a partnership with the Pentagon to develop a rocket powered by nuclear energy, intended for human missions to Mars.