NASA wants to have a nuclear fission power plant on the moon by the end of the decade as support for human activities, a sun-independent power source. It will be built on Earth and transported to the moon. A lot of specific requirements need to be achieved. First, it should fit inside a 12-foot (4-meter) diameter cylinder that’s 18 feet (6 meters) long. It should not weigh more than 13,200 pounds (6,000 kilograms) because it should be moved on different locations if needed. After all, it must provide no less than 40 kilowatts of continuous electric power for 10 years and be capable of turning itself off and on without human help. “I expect fission surface power systems to greatly benefit our plans for power architectures for the moon and Mars and even drive innovation for uses here on Earth,” Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said in a statement.
For the moment, NASA has not idea how to build it and a request for receiving proposals was made on Friday. An initial system design must be submitted by Feb. 19 by applicants. Private businesses are welcomed. Previously, the Idaho National Laboratory in the U.S. helped power NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance with a radioisotope power system, which converts heat generated by the natural decay of plutonium-238 into electrical power. The rover is active on Mars.