Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Jason T. Cassibry

Committee Member

D. Keith Hollingsworth


Nuclear fission, Lunar bases, Radiators--Design and construction


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is currently considering the use of Fission Surface Power (FSP) for power generation on the Moon. Ultra-Safe Nuclear Corporation is developing a Pylon FSP system called Pylon which provides 3 MWe of continuous power. Since mass is a crucial parameter when launching payload from Earth, it is beneficial to consider In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) to produce Pylon FSP system components on the Moon. Because mass is a key performance parameter when considering launching payload from Earth, it is determined that, since Pylon radiators constitute approximately 1/3rd of total Pylon FSP system mass, the production of Pylon radiators on the Moon through ISRU must be explored in more detail. Due to the difficulties in the production of the current Pylon radiators, Al metal used on Mars Pathfinder spacecraft is considered instead. On the other hand, the manufacturing of heat pipes requires many quality regulations meaning that their production on the Moon is not viable. Therefore, this research explores lunar ISRU to produce Pylon radiator face sheets made of Al metal. The proposed ISRU infrastructure includes RASSOR 2.0 excavator, Molten Regolith Electrolysis (MRE) system, and WarpSPEE3D metal laser 3D printer. Various Pylon lifetimes, lunar power requirements, and Pylon Power Conversion System (PCS) efficiencies are explored to compare the launch mass of fully assembled Pylons to the total mass of the architecture that considers ISRU. As a result of the conducted analysis, it is determined that ISRU to produce Al radiator face sheets for Pylon FSP systems is not viable or beneficial for any of the considered configurations and launching fully assembled Pylons is more advantageous when launch mass is considered as a figure of merit. However, increases in the ISRU equipment lifetimes, larger Pylon power generation capability, substantial improvements in Pylon PCS efficiency, and technological advances in ISRU equipment can possibly alter the conclusions made in this research and lead to lunar ISRU being viable and beneficial.



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