Pittsburgh, PA, June 6, 2023– At the 2023 Keystone Space Conference last week, Westinghouse Electric Company and Astrobotic announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to explore collaboration on space technology programs for NASA and the Department of Defense.
The collaboration will focus on the development of space nuclear technology and delivery systems. The joint effort will also include strengthening the space nuclear supply chain and workforce in the Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia region. Last year, Westinghouse received support from Astrobotic in 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 eVinci™microreactor to power spacecraft in orbit or for deployment on the surface of planetary bodies such as the Moon or Mars, providing continuous power for space research and other applications. The inherent simplicity of the eVincitechnology supports these critical space missions by providing a reliable, resilient, low-mass power generation system that can be operated autonomously. The technology is ideal for electricity generation for the lunar surface, satellites and electric propulsion.
Astrobotic is an industry leader in designing and deploying lunar landers and rovers, and is now developing LunaGrid, a power generation and distribution service that will deliver power by the watt to landers, rovers, habitats, science suites, and other lunar surface systems. The service will enable space agencies’, companies’, and nonprofits’ 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 builds on decades of Westinghouse innovation to bring carbon-free, safe, and scalable energy wherever it is needed for a variety of applications ,including electricity and heating for remote communities, universities, mining operations, industrial centers, data centers, and defense facilities, and soon the lunar surface and beyond. The versatility of the eVinci microreactor technology allows for power systems ranging from several kilowatts to 5 megawatts of electricity, delivered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for eight-plus years without refueling. The technology is 100 percent factory built and assembled before it is shipped in a container to any location.