We mainly know Rolls-Royce from the cars, but the manufacturer now wants to do more in space. It already made aircraft engines, but now wants more. Much more: it wants to build a nuclear reactor on the moon. It sounds rather rigorous, like some kind of crazy cowboy story, but nothing could be further from the truth: it even won the tender. It will receive 3.3 million euros from the UK Space Agency to financially support this project.
A British company building a nuclear reactor on the moon. Hasn’t that already happened once in a James Bond movie? Moonraker for example? No doubt there have been many similar situations in 007, but probably a lot less well-intentioned. Rolls-Royce is not going to put a kind of Borssele II on the moon: it is going for a small reactor with the aim of providing energy to people on the moon.
That is very important if we want to live permanently on the moon. After all, we have to make and build all sorts of things and that requires energy. It is now up to the well-known car brand to make a first prototype of the microreactor. Of course, other variants of energy generation have also been considered, but we all know how that can go wrong: there are all kinds of non-working rovers on Mars because their solar panels have dust on them and the sun can no longer provide them with energy, in addition to that there are sometimes also long periods in the dark. There is no wind on the moon, so a windmill is of little use. And water, well, we know that too: in short, we don’t get very far based on the natural ways of generating energy that we know.
Nuclear reactor on the moon
The reason why the UK Space Agency, which is partly financed by the British government, has chosen to have such a nuclear reactor built is because it believes that space exploration is the ultimate test site for essential technology that we can put to good use on our planet . Think of robotics, food and simply materials. It is also not surprising why Rolls-Royce was chosen specifically: the brand is British and there are several Rolls nuclear power plants in the United Kingdom. So something more than a car manufacturer. Meanwhile, other manufacturers are also busy helping people settle on the moon for a longer period of time. For example, Nokia is working on a 4G connection on the moon.
NASA wants to put people on the moon again for the first time with the lunar mission of 2025, but it will probably only be during subsequent missions in 2030 that astronauts will actually take up permanent residence on the moon. A kind of ISS, but different.