Less than a month ago, we got a second look at disaster movie maestro Roland Emmerich’s upcoming Moonfall, which appears to ask the age-old question, “What would happen if the moon fell?” It’s the latest in a long tradition of films centered on apocalyptic scenarios brought on by humanity’s hubris and/or aliens being jerks. While generally absurd, the disaster genre is so widely appealing due largely due to the fact that audiences, by and large, like the planet they’re living on, and do not wish to see it destroyed.
Disaster films also have plots that often hinge on patently bad ideas...which is why it is very unsettling to hear that NASA is apparently dead-set on making an Emmerich-like scenario a reality by building a dang nuclear power plant on the dang moon.
Per Motherboard, the space agency has put out a public proposal request for “design concepts for a flight-qualified nuclear fission system to power exploration of the Moon’s surface” under its upcoming Artemis lunar landing missions hoping to return humans to our satellite rock sometime around 2024.
“The aim is to create a system that sits on the Moon’s surface and provides the power needed to operate rovers, conduct experiments and turn the water and other resources into life support for astronauts,” explains Motherboard, adding that a $5 million grant will be awarded to the team providing the best solution concepts by February of next year.
NASA hopes to have a working nuclear fission plant by the end of the decade, which it says will be key to providing much of the power needed to maintain a semi-continual human presence on and orbiting the Moon. It’s all part of the overall goal to send our species over to Mars within the near(ish) future. “The sooner we get to the Moon, the sooner we get American astronauts to Mars,” argues NASA... because nothing terrible has ever happened to us over there in movies.
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