Rolls-Royce to build nuclear reactor for Moon base

Rolls-Royce to build nuclear reactor for Moon base

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Rolls-Royce is to develop a small nuclear reactor for a future Moon base.

The £2.6m funding from UK Space Agency will be used to develop a demonstration power system with the University of Oxford, University of Bangor, University of Brighton, University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Nuclear AMRC.

This follows a feasibility study last year.

The Micro-Reactor will be about the size of a car to provide power for the base, including generating heat and oxygen and the company plans to have a reactor ready to send to the Moon by 2029. 

The aim is to spin out the technology, derived from its nuclear submarine business, into power and propulsion capability for multiple markets.

“The new tranche of funding from the UK Space Agency means so much for the Rolls-Royce Micro-Reactor Programme. We’re proud to work collaboratively with the UK Space Agency and the many UK academic institutions to showcase the best of UK innovation and knowledge in space,” said Abi Clayton, Director of Future Programmes for Rolls-Royce.

“This funding will bring us further down the road in making the Micro-Reactor a reality, with the technology bringing immense benefits for both space and Earth. The technology will deliver the capability to support commercial and defence use cases alongside providing a solution to decarbonise industry and provide clean, safe and reliable energy.”

“We are backing technology and capabilities to support ambitious space exploration missions and boost sector growth across the UK. Developing space nuclear power offers a unique chance to support innovative technologies and grow our nuclear, science and space engineering skills base,” said Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency.

“This research by Rolls-Royce could lay the groundwork for powering continuous human presence on the Moon, while enhancing the wider UK space sector, creating jobs and generating further investment,” he added.

The UK Space Agency recently announced £50m for UK companies to develop communication and navigation services for missions to the Moon, as part of the European Space Agency’s Moonlight programme, which aims to launch a constellation of satellites into orbit around the Moon.


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