Intuitive Machines-led Team Awarded $5 Million for Fission Surface Power Solution

A Fission Surface Power (FSP) reactor landed on the Moon by an Intuitive Machines Nova-M spacecraft. (Credit: Intuitive Machines)

HOUSTON (Intuitive Machines PR) – The Department of Energy and NASA awarded IX, a joint venture between Intuitive Machines and X-energy, a contract to conduct a one-year study to mature the design of a Fission Surface Power (FSP) solution that will deliver at least 40 kWe power flight system to the Moon by 2028.

Intuitive Machines’ deep understanding of the Moon, lunar environments, and the company’s ability to access and build complex spacecraft put Intuitive Machines in place to lead systems engineering and design for maturing an FSP solution.

“This effective blend of companies brings existing and next-generation capabilities together to enable long-duration lunar surface missions,” said Intuitive Machines President and CEO Steve Altemus. “Our capable team will provide an agile, affordable Fission Surface Power solution to further human and robotic exploration of the lunar surface.”

X-energy is leading the development of an advanced small scale, portable reactor for space applications using its proprietary ceramic encapsulated fuel (TRISO-X) that can withstand temperatures four times greater than conventional nuclear fuel. Designed to be intrinsically safe, X-energy’s space reactors deliver long life and high thermal power output at low mass based on numerous micro-reactor innovations developed over the past several years.

“Our highly capable team and our partners are extremely honored to be selected for the initial design of this U.S.-led lunar power project. We recognize the importance of a dependable power source that can maintain lunar and Mars habitats around the clock, especially during the 14-day lunar nights,” said X-energy CEO Clay Sell. “This combined spaceflight-nuclear technology will protect the environment while enabling long-term power capabilities for the lunar Artemis program and future Mars expeditions.”

IX Team:

Boeing: Leveraging ISS and satellite power generation and conversion systems experience.

Maxar: Leveraging high-power satellite expertise from NASA’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and other deep space vehicles, Maxar will provide power management/distribution, communications, command and data handling electronics, lightweight structures, and waste heat rejection subsystems.