New Delhi | Jagran Technology Desk: To roll out its ambitious mission, the United States has formally requested the private sector to provide ideas on building nuclear power plants that will work on Moon and Mars.

The US Department of Energy has placed a formal request for the construction of a fission surface power system which will allow humans to live longer in harsh space environments.

“Small nuclear reactors can provide the power capability necessary for space exploration missions of interest to the Federal government,” the Department of Energy wrote in a notice published on Friday.

NASA and the Idaho National Laboratory, a nuclear research facility in eastern Idaho, the Energy Department will evaluate ideas for developing the Department of Energy and NASA reactors. The lab has been working on advanced reactors and some of these are working for microreactors and others which can be cooled without water. Most of the water-cooled nuclear reactors on earth are a vast majority of reactors that are functioning.

The Department of Energy, NASA, and the Battle Energy Alliance, the American contractor that manages the Idaho National Laboratory, plans to hold a government-industry webcast technical meeting in August regarding expectations for such a program.

The plan is divided into two phases- the first one being developing a reactor design and the other is building a test reactor including sending a second reactor to the moon and developing a flight system and lander that can transport the reactor to the moon. The target of the plan is to build a reactor, flight system, and lander by the end of 2026 that can be delivered to the Moon and Mars.

The reactor will be built in such a way that it is capable of generating at least 10 kW of non-stop power. According to the US Energy Information Administration, The average American residential home uses about 11,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. The Department of Energy said it would likely take several connected reactors to meet power needs on the Moon or Mars. Also, the reactor cannot carry more than 7,700 pounds (3,500 kg) of weight. It can last for at least 10 years.

Officials say the operation of a nuclear reactor on the moon would be the first step in creating a modified edition to operate under the various conditions found on Mars.

Posted By: Simran Babbar