Earth’s Moon as viewed from the International Space Station.
Image credit: NASA

The Moon needs power!

That’s the on-switch approach suggested in the House NASA Reauthorization Act of 2024.

A “Lunar Power Purchase Agreement Program” is in the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee language just released.

Independent entity

It authorizes NASA to enter into an arrangement with an independent entity to conduct a study on the feasibility of using power purchase agreements to facilitate the development and deployment of lunar surface power.

“The study will identify the needed infrastructure and capabilities to support lunar surface power production, forecast the demand for lunar surface power, and consider associated policy and legal challenges,” according to the language.

Anywhere on the Moon

Whatever the outcome of pushing this concept forward it could be energized by the Moon plans in the making by Blue Origin.

Since 2021, the group has been making solar cells and transmission wire from Moon regolith simulants – Earth-made lunar turf that mimics the real stuff.

Image credit: Blue Origin

Their approach is called Blue Alchemist.

“To make long-term presence on the Moon viable, we need abundant electrical power,” explains a Blue Origin statement. “We can make power systems on the Moon directly from materials that exist everywhere on the surface, without special substances brought from Earth. We have pioneered the technology and demonstrated all the steps. Our approach, Blue Alchemist, can scale indefinitely, eliminating power as a constraint anywhere on the Moon.”

Deployable solar arrays

Last year, NASA selected a trio of companies at the tune of $19.4 million to further advance work on deployable solar array systems for the Moon.

Image credit: NASA

These three companies are to build prototypes and perform environmental testing, with the goal of deploying one of the systems near the Moon’s south sole near the end of this decade:

Astrobotic Technology: $6.2 million

Honeybee Robotics: $7 million

Lockheed Martin: $6.2 million

Lots of lunar activity means lots of needed power.
Image credit: APL/NASA

Generate, distribute, store power

Also weighing in on lunar surface power needs is the Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium, run by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). It operates in collaboration with the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate.

Surface Power Focus Area experts are looking into technologies that generate, distribute, and store power in the harsh lunar surface environment. The intent of this research is to arrive at power systems that enable sustained presence and exploration.

Topics include fission surface power, solar power, low-temperature batteries, fuel cells, wireless transmission, long-distance transmission, power electronics, and grid-scale energy storage.

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