The agency completed the first phase of the “Fission Surface Power Project,” which it began in 2022, when contracts were awarded to partners to develop designs for reactors, according to the “Sense Alert” website.
The companies were assigned to provide designs for the reactor, including energy conversion, management and distribution systems, and to develop estimated costs for these systems.
NASA seeks to create a reactor that can support human bases on the Moon for at least a decade, which will then be re-implemented and applied to Mars.
The report indicates that NASA's energy systems on the Moon and Mars will be "life or death" for them, as nuclear energy will be the most likely to serve energy needs for a long time.
NASA chose to place a nuclear reactor on the moon, because it could work full-time without the need for sunlight, especially since the lunar night lasts for about 14 days.
NASA confirms that it will also provide a mix of solar and nuclear energy facilities to provide the electricity needs of various laboratories.
NASA wants these reactors to be able to operate for at least a decade without human intervention, which reduces any threats from radiation exposure and allows exploration campaigns to focus on scientific missions.
NASA specified that the nuclear reactor must weigh less than 6 tons and produce 40 kilowatts of electrical energy, which is enough to power 33 homes on Earth.
NASA is preparing for the "Artemis" mission, which will include the second landing on the moon for astronauts, which is expected to occur before 2027.
NASA and the White House announced that they will allow an international astronaut to participate with American astronauts to land on the moon in the mission that will take place by the end of the current decade.
The "Artemis" program aims to send the first woman and the first person of color to the moon, in addition to establishing a permanent human presence on the moon in preparation for heading to Mars.
NASA also seeks to establish a space station in the orbit of the moon, “Gateway,” and a base on its surface. There, humanity will learn to live in deep space and develop all the technologies necessary to conduct trips back and forth to Mars.