If anyone has a good idea for how to put a nuclear power plant on the Moon, NASA wants to hear about it.
According to AP, NASA and the top US federal nuclear research laboratory on November 19 issued a call for a proposal for a fission surface power system.
The space agency is working with the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory to establish a sun-independent energy source for missions to the Moon later this decade.
“Delivering a reliable, high-energy system on the Moon is the next important step in human space exploration, and achieving it is within our reach,” said Sebastian Corbisiero, who head of the Fission Surface Power Project at the lab – statement.
If successful in establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon, the next target will be Mars. NASA says that fission surface energy can provide an abundant and sustainable source of energy, regardless of environmental conditions on the Moon or Mars.
The reactor will be built on Earth and then sent to the Moon.
Fission surface power system ideas should include a uranium-fuelled reactor core, a system to convert nuclear energy into usable energy, and a heat management system to keep the reactor going. Cooling systems and distribution systems that provide no less than 40 kilowatts of electricity continuously for 10 years in the lunar environment.
Some of the other requirements include: Ability to turn itself off and on without human assistance, be able to operate on the deck of a Moon lander, be able to detach from the lander and run on a system mobile system to another location to operate.
In addition, when launched from Earth to the Moon, it must fit in a cylinder 4m in diameter, 6m long, and at the same time must not weigh more than 6,000kg.