Rolls-Royce set to develop nuclear reactor for the MOON in huge new UK science project

Space Flower Moon Micro Reactor.

Space Flower Moon Micro Reactor.

George McMillan

By George McMillan

Published: 17/03/2023

- 17:29

Rolls-Royce hopes the reactor will enable astronauts to spend more time in space.

Rolls-Royce is set to develop a nuclear reactor for a Moon base in a huge new boost for the UK.

Staff at the company are working on a Micro-Reactor programme, developing technology they hope will provide the power needed for humans to live and work on Earth’s natural satellite.

They will look into how nuclear power could be used to support a future base on the Moon.

£2.9million will be supplied by the UK Space Agency for the project, which is expected to demonstrate a demonstration of a UK lunar modular nuclear reactor initially.

A Rolls-Royce sign.

The project will look into how nuclear power could be used to support a future base on the Moon.


The UK Space Agency funded an initial £249,000 in 2022 for the study.

It is believed by experts that nuclear power will allow astronauts to stay in space for longer.

The nuclear power would supply energy for communications, life-support and science experiments.

Rolls-Royce intends to have a reactor that is Space-ready for 2029.

A space colony.

Rolls-Royce has received funding from the UK Space Agency to develop a nuclear reactor for a Moon base.


Collaboratos on the project will include the University of Oxford, University of Bangor, University of Brighton, University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Nuclear AMRC.

Science minister George Freeman said: “Space exploration is the ultimate laboratory for so many of the transformational technologies we need on Earth: from materials to robotics, nutrition, cleantech and much more.

“As we prepare to see humans return to the Moon for the first time in more than 50 years, we are backing exciting research like this lunar modular reactor with Rolls-Royce to pioneer new power sources for a lunar base.

“Partnerships like this, between British industry, the UK Space Agency and Government are helping to create jobs across our £16billion Space Tech sector and help ensure the UK continues to be a major force in frontier science.”

A nuclear micro-reactor has the potential to provide power that is not dependent on location, available sunlight, and other variables.

The director of future programmes for Rolls-Royce, Abi Claton, said: “This funding will bring us further down the road in making the Micro-Reactor a reality, with the technology bringing immense benefits for both space and Earth.”

Chief executive of the UK Space Agency, Dr Paul Bate, said: “This innovative research by Rolls-Royce could lay the groundwork for powering continuous human presence on the Moon, while enhancing the wider UK space sector, creating jobs and generating further investment.”

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