Astrobotic and Westinghouse Collaborating to Power Outer Space

By Sophia Francise

June 13, 2023
westinghouse microreactor amid snow and cold mountains

Westinghouse Electric Company and Astrobotic have signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

The announcement was made during the 2023 Keystone Space Conference, and they aim to explore collaboration on space technology programs for NASA and the Department of Defense.1

This joint effort will also strengthen the space nuclear supply chain and workforce in the Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia regions. Astrobotic funded Westinghouse last year, which supported capturing a $5 million NASA/DOE contract to provide an initial design concept for a fission lunar surface power system.

Westinghouse is developing a scaled-down version of the 5-MW eVincimicroreactor.

Their device will enable powering of spacecraft in orbit or for deployment on the surface of planetary bodies such as the Moon or Mars.

This will allow the provision of continuous power for space research and other applications.

The eVincitechnology provides a reliable, resilient, low-mass power generation system that can be operated autonomously for critical space missions, the technology can generate electricity for the lunar surface, satellites, and electric propulsion.

The Westinghouse eVinci™ Microreactor is our next-generation small modular reactor (SMR) for remote applications.

Astrobotic is an industry leader in designing and deploying lunar landers and rovers.

They are currently developing LunaGrid, a power generation and distribution service that will enable systems to survive the lunar night and operate indefinitely on the Moon starting at the lunar south pole.

“Westinghouse is proud to join with Astrobotic on delivering the next wave of innovative nuclear technology that is vital to advancing space exploration and supporting national defense missions,” said David Durham, Westinghouse President for Energy Systems.

“Astrobotic and Westinghouse have deep roots in Pittsburgh, and we are excited to leverage both companies’ capabilities to pioneer the future of space power technologies and services,” said John Thornton, Astrobotic CEO.

The eVinci Microreactor is a carbon-free, safe, and scalable energy source, it is usable for various applications, including electricity and heating for remote communities, universities, mining operations, industrial centers, data centers, and defense facilities.

The technology provides power systems from several kilowatts to 5 megawatts, delivered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 8+ years without refueling. It is factory built and assembled before being shipped in a container.

References

  1. SpaceDaily, ‘Astrobotic and Westinghouse team to power outer space’, https://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Astrobotic_and_Westinghouse_team_to_power_outer_space_999.html[]
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