In a newly announced initiative, NASA has commissioned three individual companies to produce plans for the possible use of nuclear power bases on the Moon. 

With the potential of such bases becoming more than just a concept by the late 2020s, the three companies involved - Lockheed Martin, Westinghouse, and a joint effort between Intuitive Machines and X-Energy named XI - will command the contract value of an estimated $5 billion each for their individual designs of lunar-based nuclear fission system.

Alongside the U.S. Department for Energy, NASA selected the concept proposals which the American government hopes to see in place on the Moon in the next ten years, with the aim of not only powering the next step in space exploration to Mars and beyond, but also power Moon-based infrastructure.  

Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA's space technology mission directorate said that "Developing these designs will help us lay the groundwork for powering our long-term human presence on other worlds"

The three chosen companies have twelve months to produce viable plans which is part of "Phase 1" as NASA indicated, although "Phase 2" plans and any associated timeline were not discussed.

With NASA keen to roll out its Artemis 1 mission which will herald the start of plans to return humankind to the Moon after a gap since the the 1970's, the announcement also comes at a time when interest in the Moon has heightened again, with NASA possibly keen to get an early nuclear foothold on our nearest companion in space.