The eventual deployment of nuclear reactors on the Moon blasted a baby step closer to reality today, with NASA embarking upon the creation of a new unit tasked with bringing such a nuclear capability to fruition. The Technology Demonstration Unit (TDU) for Fission Surface Power (FSP) on Nov. 14 began searching for potential contractors capable of helping the new entity to initially develop and test a "simulated nucelar heat source," according to a presolicitation notice that The Peacock Report (TPR) located via a routine search of the FedBizOpps database. The TDU is "planned as a 5 or 6-year activity with concept definition and risk reduction that could lead to the start of a potential flight development program in the future," the document says:
FSP systems provide a potential option to support future human exploration missions on the Moon and Mars. FSP is a current technology project under the Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP) sponsored by the NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.
TPR broke the story early last year that the Bush Administration envisions building nuclear facilities and robotic spacecraft-manufacturing plants on the Moon as a critical step in eventually sending humans to Mars (see TPR, 03/23/2006; New Details of U.S. Moon-Base Project Reveal Nuclear Intentions).