Russia and China want to put a nuclear power plant on the moon

The Moon may have nuclear power on it soon (Picture: Getty)

China and Russia want to install a nuclear power unit on the moon – despite no humans visiting it for more than five decades.

Yuri Borisov, the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, said its stable power could help maintain lunar settlements because solar panels would not be enough.

In 2021, Beijing and Moscow announced plans to build a permanently manned research station on the moon’s south pole, with work to begin to establish a basic outpost in the next few years, known as the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). 

This is despite the last time a human was on the Moon was in 1972.

Completion of the outpost is predicted to be in the 2030s.

This is when Chinese and Russian space agencies are considering installing the power unit together. 

‘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,’ Yury Borisov, the head of Roscosmos, told Russian state media TASS. 

‘This is a very serious challenge…it should be done in automatic mode, without the presence of humans.’ 

There seems to be a space race to build a lunar base (Picture: Getty /iStockphoto)

Russia also plans to construct a nuclear-powered cargo spaceship.

‘We are indeed working on a space tugboat. This huge, cyclopean structure that would be able, thanks to a nuclear reactor and a high-power turbines…to transport large cargoes from one orbit to another, collect space debris and engage in many other applications,’ Dr Borisov said.

He said the technical questions about the project has been solved but they still need a solution on how to cool the nuclear reactor.

The ILRS is an now a wider international project, with Azerbaijan, Belarus, Pakistan, South Africa and Venezuela also signing up last year. 

The aim is to get a fully operational station for lunar research by 2050, and for it to act as a launch pad for crewed missions to planets elsewhere in the solar system. 

It’s seen to rival Nasa’s Artemis missions – which was contemplating using nuclear power to provide energy for its planned bases. 

Although Russia was once leading the space race, recent years have seen a series of setbacks culminating in the failure of its Luna-25 spacecraft which spun out of control and crashed into the surface of the Moon

However, Moscow has stated it will launch further lunar missions and then explore the possibility of a joint Russian-China crewed mission and even a lunar base.

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