Three years after NASA and the US Department of Energy announced that they would seek proposals to build nuclear power plants on the Moon, China has announced that it is also looking to build a lunar base from lunar soil within the next five years. Is.
Steve Johnson, director of Idaho National Laboratory’s Division of Space Nuclear and Isotope Technologies, expected the US project to be up and running by 2028, according to CNBC.
“We really try to bring innovation from the commercial nuclear industry to work with NASA and the aerospace industry using existing technologies,” Johnson said.
Now, reports are emerging that China is involved in studying the possible development of a robot called Super Mason capable of manufacturing moon bricks for the country’s future lunar base.
According to the Financial Post, China hopes to launch the project in the next five years. Ding Liyun of the Chinese Academy of Engineering explained that the expansion of the Moon is considered an important step for the success of future space exploration.
“After all, building rooms beyond Earth is essential not only for humanity’s pursuit of space exploration, but also for China’s strategic needs as a space power,” Ding said in an interview with China Science Daily.
Ding believes the first bricks for the station will be made in 2028.
China previously announced that it hopes to power a manned moon base with nuclear power.
Similar goals and opportunities for naturally occurring resources on the Moon could put the US and China in competition with each other.
Naturally rich in uranium, thorium, deuterium and lithium, the Moon is considered a waste-free nuclear power source, according to Oublica Space. One resource in particular, called Lunar3HE, is extremely rare on Earth. Because of this rarity, the extraction of lunar soil resources has been a focus of study for many years.
If either country is successful, nuclear power plants on the Moon could provide the power needed to support space missions to other planets, such as the proposed colonization of Mars.
After the successful landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars, colonization of the planet became a more viable possibility. Experts floated the idea that future robotic exploration of Mars with the aim of extracting water and fuel sources could enable the first human exploration of the planet as early as 2050.
However, there are still concerns as astrophysicists grapple with the realities of space exploration, from construction to repair or facilitating rapid response if necessary in the event of a malfunction.