The Most High-End Car Company Is Building A Nuclear Reactor On The Moon

Rolls-Royce is developing a nuclear reactor for the UK government to use on the Moon.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated


If you’re like most of us, you probably associate Rolls-Royce only with the manufacturer of very fancy, very expensive automobiles. However, this British manufacturer handles so much more than cars, and we got a powerful reminder of that this week thanks to the British government. In a recent press release, the British government confirmed that the UK Space Agency (think of them like NASA but with nicer accents) has tasked Rolls-Royce with developing a nuclear reactor that could be used on the Moon.

Why would Rolls-Royce need to build a nuclear reactor for the moon, though? Simple: to help power future bases that will be built on the moon. The idea seems to be to build something here that future astronauts would be able to haul into space and then to the moon, giving them a plug-and-play power source that is ultimately much more convenient than, say, trying to build such a reactor on the surface of the moon itself (and much safer than NASA’s scary nuclear rockets).

Of course, what even the most casual driver knows about Rolls-Royce is that the high quality of their craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap if you want to drive one of their luxury automobiles. And that philosophy carries over to their other divisions as well. For example, while the company will be designing this reactor on behalf of the British government, they are getting a cool $3.5 million in order to do so.

The world is in a space race to build bases on the Moon.

But why would the British government suddenly tap Rolls-Royce or any other private manufacturer to focus on building things for the moon? The short answer is that everything old is new again, and both the space race and the focus on lunar exploration are in vogue again. Now that NASA has announced their upcoming Artemis missions that will put men on the moon again for the first time in 50 years, other countries (including England) have decided to go “all-in” on investing in lunar exploration.

As for Rolls-Royce, it probably still seems insane to think about that company developing lunar reactors for the moon if you only think of them as an automobile manufacturer. However, this project is much more in the company’s wheelhouse than you might think. For example, Rolls-Royce has been providing for England’s naval needs since before the last moon landing, and the company was somewhat ironically recently asked to develop an entirely different nuclear reactor for underwater vessels as part of a trilateral agreement between the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia.

While it’s only speculation about the future (perhaps the very distant future), we can’t help but wonder if Rolls-Royce designing the nuclear reactor to use for a future moonbase means that we might finally achieve the kind of stylistic sci-fi utopia that so many writers and artists have described in ‘50s and ‘60s fiction. Elon Musk may talk a big game about eventually colonizing Mars, but given the rate at which he’s running different companies into the ground, we’ll be lucky if Mars colony architecture looks even marginally better than that awful Cybertruck. At least when we start colonizing the Moon, we can do so in designer style (also, we’ll then be living 238,900 miles from Musk, meaning we may finally never have to hear about Twitter again).