Rolls-Royce to develop nuclear reactor for space: Secures Rs 29 crore funding
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The 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. The initiative is part of the European Space Agency’s Moonlight programme, which aims to place a constellation of satellites in orbit around the Moon. Rolls-Royce plans to have a reactor ready to send to the Moon by 2029.
The study aims to provide future astronauts, rovers, science experiments and other tools for better communication. Using a tiny nuclear reactor, they can share vast amounts of data, including high-definition video, and navigate safely to the Moon. This research can create more employment opportunities and attract further investment. A nuclear micro reactor is relatively small in size and light in comparison to other power systems. This technology also does not depend on factors like location, sunlight and any other environmental conditions.
For this project, Rolls-Royce will work with partners such as the University of Oxford, Bangor University, the University of Brighton, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) of the University of Sheffield and the Nuclear AMRC. With this funding, Rolls-Royce will be able to increase its knowledge of micro-reactors. 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 be working closely with the UK Space Agency and many UK academic institutions to showcase the best of UK innovation and knowledge in space. This funding will get us further down the road in making the micro-reactor a reality, with the technology bringing immense benefits to both space and Earth. The technology will provide the industry with the ability to decarbonize and provide clean, safe and reliable energy, as well as support commercial and defense use cases.