A Trade Study of Lunar Power Plant Technology
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With future plans to return to the Moon in the next few years over the course of the NASA Artemis missions, as well as other government and private ventures, it is critical to assess different power sources for a permanent lunar base. Here, we detail a power source with the lowest upfront and per-unit cost while remaining safe and reliable, assuming a lunar base on the rim of the Shackleton Crater on the South Pole, with a capacity of 8 astronauts, and a mission duration of ten years. Here, power sources are analytically assessed by assigning rankings for each power source based on these metrics, a common technique referred to as a design matrix. Ranked on a 0 to 10 scale for each power source, the five metrics used in this paper are: (1) total cost, (2) safety, (3) reliability, (4) technological readiness, and (5) miscellaneous factors like scalability. Analyzed power sources include conventional options such as solar panels with batteries or a nuclear fission reactor, developing solutions such as nuclear fusion, and unorthodox solutions such as laser beaming. Using this design matrix, mirrors in high, polar lunar orbit constantly reflecting sunlight onto a collector system below was found to be the best solution out of the analyzed power sources.
Research Paper, Symposium Presentation, Research Archive of Rising Scholars
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