Russia and China consider putting nuclear plant on the Moon

Russia and China may place nuclear power plant on the Moon to provide electricity for future settlement, Roscosmos chief says

Mar 6, 2024 - 00:00
Russia and China consider putting nuclear plant on the Moon

Moscow’s space chief Yury Borisov has said that a joint venture with Beijing might install a reactor to power lunar settlement

Russian and Chinese space officials are “seriously considering” a joint project to install a nuclear power station on the Moon within about a decade to generate electricity for a future lunar settlement, Roscosmos chief Yury Borisov has revealed.

Borisov, a former deputy prime minister who was appointed to head the Russian space agency in 2022, claimed on Tuesday that the technology needed for a lunar nuclear development was already almost ready. “Today we are seriously considering a project – somewhere at the turn of 2033-2035 – to deliver and install a power unit on the lunar surface together with our Chinese colleagues,” he said at the World Youth Festival near Sochi.

Nuclear power could be a solution for providing the energy needed for settlement on the Moon, Borisov said. Solar panels would not be able to generate enough electricity, he claimed. Robotics would be used to install the reactor.

“This is a very serious challenge,” the Roscosmos director said. “It should be done in automatic mode, without the presence of humans.”

Borisov added that the only technological hurdle that had not been cleared was a solution for cooling the reactor. “We are working on a space tugboat,” he said. “This huge, cyclopean structure that would be able – thanks to a nuclear reactor and high-powered turbines – to transport large cargoes from one orbit to another, collect space debris and engage in many other applications.”

The talk of a lunar reactor comes amid what some observers have called a modern-day space race between the US and its allies on one side and Russia and China on the other side. US Space Command chief General Stephen Whiting has claimed that China is developing its space-based military capabilities at a “breathtaking” pace, while the Chinese Defense Ministry has warned that Washington is leading a dangerous push to militarize outer space.

US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner alleged last month that Russia seeks to deploy a missile interceptor in space – possibly with a nuclear warhead – to boost its anti-satellite capabilities. Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by saying Washington was using false claims to gain negotiating leverage on limiting space-based weaponry.

Borisov insisted that Russia has no plans to station nuclear weapons in space.

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