Inspenet, September 10, 2023.
Beijing is working on developing a novel nuclear energy system intended to power its future lunar base . This infrastructure is planned to be built in the next decade and is projected to be a link between the Earth, the Moon and other space missions.
Those responsible for the Chinese project have announced that the future lunar base at the satellite’s south pole will run on nuclear energy. They argue that this energy supply will be able to meet the long-term power and energy demands of this space base.
Although Chinese authorities have not provided specific details of the project, previous reports from experts at the space agency suggest that the new supply system could generate up to 1 MW of energy in a year, enough to power approximately one hundred homes.
The creators of the project claim that nuclear energy will play a fundamental role in providing the power necessary to ensure the optimal functioning of the entire lunar base. This ranges from instrumental systems to life support systems for future astronauts, even in regions where sunlight does not reach.
The space infrastructure, scheduled for construction in 2028, will comprise a lander, a launch module and a rover, which is expected to be considerably larger than solar-powered rovers such as Yutu-2, which has been exploring the far side of the Moon for almost four years.
China and its goal of building its lunar base
The Chinese space program has been taking shape over decades, but has seen significant momentum in recent years. An example is the construction of the Tiangong space station, which is now operational after the installation of the Mengtian module last October.
However, the main focus of the Chinese space program continues to be the Moon. Since the launch of the first Chang’E space probe in 2007, China has made significant progress in this space mission, including successful landings of two exploration rovers and the recovery of 1,731 grams of lunar material. Now, the next space probes, scheduled to launch later this decade, are expected to lay the foundation for the future space station that will serve as a link between the Earth and the Moon.
Nuclear energy would serve to guarantee supply without depending on sunlight and will play a fundamental role in this new space infrastructure. According to the Chinese space agency, continuous power supply will be essential for the operation of critical components of the mission, such as the launch module, which will need the ability to enter and exit crater areas that never receive sunlight.
Additionally, this additional power input could be an important support for the lunar base’s communications facilities, which are expected to serve as a permanent communications hub between Earth, Mars, and other deep space missions in the future.