AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas company is one of three winners in a national contest to design concepts for nuclear power systems on the moon. The company, IX, is based out of Houston. Its design could be used in a future mission on the moon as part of the Artemis program.

Fission surface power systems – depicted in this conceptual illustration – could provide reliable power for human exploration of the Moon under Artemis. Credit: NASA
Fission surface power systems – depicted in this conceptual illustration – could provide reliable power for human exploration of the Moon under Artemis. Credit: NASA

According to NASA, the contracts were awarded by the Department of Energy and each is valued at $5 million. The funds will be used to turn the initial design concept into a “40-kilowatt class fission power system.” Each system must be able to provide power for 10 years on the moon.

NASA said fusion power systems are smaller and lighter weight compared to other, traditional fueling systems. It said devices can work in a variety of environments and don’t rely on fuel sources.

“Developing these early designs will help us lay the groundwork for powering our long-term human presence on other worlds,” said Jim Reuter with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

Concepts were submitted to the Battelle Energy Alliance, a contractor with the Idaho National Laboratory. It evaluated the concepts, and then awarded 12-month contracts to the winners, including IX. The other two winners were Lockheed Martin and Westinghouse.

Later this week, KXAN is taking an in-depth look at nuclear power and how it is being shrunk down for space travel. We’ll being touring a nuclear reactor operating in Austin to learn more about the process.