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fredinno posted a topic in Science & SpaceflightUsing Americium RTGs for a reusable Manned Lunar Lander- could it work? On the surface, this seems very reasonable- the lifetime of a Manned Lunar Lander could easily be extended far into the Lunar Night, beyond the 14 day maximum mission length a current lander would allow for (w/o something like fuel cells or large batteries to store electrical power- though extra supplies would obviously be necessary). It would also heat up the lander, reducing electrical usage, and makes batteries unnecessary (which would reduce the mass.) The increased mission duration also means that NASA could squeeze more science out without more SLS launches (which cost at least $500 Million apiece) including during the night (maybe some sort of Lunar night-specific experiments?) Amercium RTG use could also be extended to a lunar pressurized rover, increasing distance one can cover in a single mission dramatically-now limited only by consumables and CO2 scrubbers, not power) However, RTGs would require larger radiators and radiation shielding- also, Amercium RTGs (which have a lower power density, but use much more common material than Plutonium ones) will likely take another decade to develop (which ESA is doing), meaning the first lunar landers will have to use more conventional power sources. However, since Amercium 241 has a longer half-life (432 y), it will take much longer for the heat energy to decline, so long that the RTGs will likely never have to be replaced- it would be replaced with the aging lander itself. Though more common, Amercium RTGs still have a limit to how much you can make- limited by the production of the Amercium Feedstock (a limit I have no idea is :p) Additionally, Amercium RTGs would have a much lower power density of 2W/Kg, compared to Solar at 10W/kg. On the other hand, the increased capability of the lander and not having to carry O2 and H2 (if using fuel cells) may offset it. So, is an Amercium RTG-powered Manned Lunar Lander a Good Idea? Or should it go in the dump bin next to RTG-powered Space Stations? (Yes, those things were proposed in the 60s-70s.)