There's a global race happening to put humans back on the moon, with the United States, Japan and China among the countries working to get astronauts there as soon as possible. However, infrastructure is needed for astronauts to have a place to live and work.
To that end, today, the UK Space Agency announced funding for Rolls-Royce to build a nuclear reactor that would support a future moon base. The current £2.9 billion (~$3.52 billion) given by the UK Space Agency follows £249,000 (~$302,000) provided last year for Rolls-Royce's initial study.
Engineers and scientists at Rolls-Royce are working to build a nuclear micro-reactor due to its small size and ability to function regardless of sunlight available or location. Currently, Rolls-Royce estimates the micro-reactor will go to the moon in 2029.
We’re backing new research by @RollsRoyce that will support future Moon missions. 🚀🌕
The funding will help develop tech that will provide power needed for humans to live and work on the Moon - from comms systems to life-support. 👩🏻🚀👨🏽🚀
👉 https://t.co/IctjqdmK5J#BSW2023 pic.twitter.com/lxb8pMfNNM
— UK Space Agency (@spacegovuk) March 17, 2023
The funding announcement comes only two days after NASA and AXIOM Space released the new prototype spacesuit Artemis III astronauts will wear on the moon. Currently, NASA aims for the Artemis III mission to launch in December 2025. NASA also plans to build a base camp on the moon's surface.
In the next decade we will likely see greater progress in all areas surrounding travel to the moon. Last month, the UK Space Agency announced £51 million (~$61.89 million) available for UK companies to build communication and navigation systems to use in future moon missions. The initiative comes as part of the goal of the European Space Agency’s Moonlight program to have satellites around the moon aiding future astronauts and rovers with communication and safety.