This Revolutionary NASA Tech Could Make A Mars City Possible

Brian in Mesa

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May 13, 2002
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The Dark Side
This Revolutionary NASA Tech Could Make A Mars City Possible

Over the next 15 years, multiple space agencies and their commercial partners intend to mount crewed missions to the Moon and Mars.

In addition to placing “footprints and flags” on these celestial bodies, there are plans to establish the infrastructure for a long-term human presence. Several technologies are currently being researched and developed to meet these mission requirements and ensure astronaut safety.

At their core, these technologies are all about achieving self-sufficiency in terms of resources, materials, and energy.

To ensure that these missions have all the energy they need to conduct operations, NASA is developing a Fission Surface Power (FSP) system to provide a safe, efficient, and reliable electricity supply. In conjunction with solar cells, batteries, and fuel cells, this technology will shortly allow for long-term missions to the Moon and Mars.

For NASA, having fission reactors for lunar surface operations is a vital part of the Artemis Program, which aims to create a program of “sustained lunar exploration.” This means infrastructure is required, like the Lunar Gateway (where spacecraft will dock and resupply) and the Artemis Base Camp on the surface, where astronauts will eat, exercise, and sleep when not conducting extravehicular activities (EVAs) – i.e., surface operations.

This base will require a considerable amount of electricity so astronauts can recharge rovers, conduct experiments, and produce water, propellant, building materials, and oxygen gas using the Moon’s natural resources — a process known as In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU). Jim Reuter is the associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), which funds the fission surface power project.

“Plentiful energy will be key to future space exploration,” he said in a NASA press release. “I expect fission surface power systems to greatly benefit our plans for power architectures for the Moon and Mars and even drive innovation for uses here on Earth.”

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