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This partnership between the UK Space Agency and Rolls-Royce follows previously announced £51 million funding for UK companies to develop communications and navigation services for missions to the moon. This initiative is part of the European Space Agency’s Moonlight program, which aims to launch a constellation of satellites into orbit around the moon. Rolls-Royce plans to have a reactor ready to be sent to the moon by 2029.
The aim of this study is to enable future astronauts, rovers, scientific experiments and other devices to communicate better. Using the small nuclear reactor, they were able to exchange a large amount of data, including high-resolution video, and safely navigate the moon. This research could lead to the creation of more job opportunities and attract further investment. A nuclear microreactor is relatively small and light compared to other power systems. This technology also does not depend on factors such as location, sunlight and other environmental conditions.
For this project, Rolls-Royce will work with partners such as the University of Oxford, the University of Bangor, the University of Brighton, the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) and Nuclear AMRC. With this funding, Rolls-Royce will be able to expand its knowledge of the microreactor. It will focus on three key areas – the fuel used to generate heat, the method of heat transfer and the technology to convert that heat into electricity.
Abi Clayton, Director of Future Programs at Rolls-Royce said: “We are proud to partner with the UK Space Agency and the many UK academic institutions to showcase the best of UK innovation and knowledge in space. This funding will take us further in the realization of the microreactor, with the technology bringing immense benefits to space and Earth. The technology will provide the ability to support commercial and military use cases while providing a solution to decarbonize industry and provide clean, safe and reliable energy.”
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