Two nuclear projects will receive around £1.3m as part of the UK Space Agency’s latest £13m funding round, announced at the 39th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, US, this week. Rolls-Royce Submarines and BWXT Advanced Technologies will receive £1.2m for their joint venture while the University of Leicester has been granted £800,000 to continue an international nuclear study.

The UK Space Agency said that the Rolls-Royce and BWXT project will “identify the optimum technologies for a fission nuclear system which balances flexibility to a range of space power missions and maximises performance while minimising programme and technical risk”.

Th University of Leicester, along with partners from the UK, US and Japan, will study a “range of mission opportunities for UK space nuclear power technologies” including “the development of hybrid power systems with existing US conversion technologies”.

Dr Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “We want to draw on the best global talent to push the boundaries of new technology such as AI and space nuclear power, enhance our home-grown space capabilities and catalyse investment into the UK economy. The projects supported by our International Bilateral Fund champion the best of British innovation, while strengthening our ties with the wider space community.”

In a press statement, Rolls-Royce emphasised how its partnership with the US nuclear company BWXT will benefit “both UK and US space nuclear development programmes for a range of space power missions”.

“The Teaming Agreement between Rolls-Royce and BWXT brings together over 130 years of safe and secure nuclear delivery on both sides of the Atlantic. This new agreement builds on our complementary core competencies and market knowledge from our respective countries,” said Steve Carlier, president of Rolls-Royce Submarines.

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Rolls-Royce has recently been forging other partnerships to develop its nuclear portfolio. Last month, the British company entered an agreement with Industria and CVG to deploy Rolls-Royce SMR technology in Poland.

US nuclear company Westinghouse is also attending the Space Symposium this week, where it will promote AstroVinci microreactor technology, which has applications on Earth and in space, according to the company.