Rolls-Royce, a British company that also works in aerospace engineering, is developing a nuclear microreactor that could be a source of fuel for long trips to the Moon and Mars.
The reactor will rely on uranium, the fuel used in nuclear fission, to produce power that could power a rocket.
The difference with respect to current systems is that its nuclear reactor will be lighter than those that use chemical-based propulsion, something essential in space travel, which needs speed and larger payloads.
Rolls-Royce has secured $600 million in funding to develop the technology and hopes to send a nuclear reactor to the moon by 2029.
It is not the first time that we hear something like this, NASA and DARPA have also been working on the development of alternative rocket propulsion systems, and it seems that fission is still more viable, since we are still far from being able to use nuclear fusion to these topics.
According to available information, Rolls-Royce is in the ‘concept, design, development and testing’ phase of the reactor. The head of innovation products and services, Jake Thompson, has said that the company is working on a basic prototype, but a full announcement of the final product is still far from being announced.
You have more information at www.rolls-royce.com/innovation/space.aspx.