Edinburgh, 28 June 2022. – NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have selected three design concept proposals for a fission surface power system design to advance space nuclear technologies, NASA said. The design could launch by the end of the decade for a lunar demonstration.
The contracts are valued at approximately US $5 million each and will fund the development of initial design concepts. The 40-kilowatt class fission power systems’ operational life is expected to be at least 10 years on the Moon. Fission systems are relatively small and lightweight continuous power sources, and they are independent of location, sunlight, and other environmental conditions.
DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory will award the 12-month contracts to Lockheed Martin, Westinghouse and IX, a joint venture of Intuitive Machines and X-Energy.
Fission surface power technologies can help NASA develop nuclear propulsion systems for deep space exploration with reactor-generated power. The project is managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center while the power system development is funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Technology Demonstration Missions program.