Today, President Donald J. Trump issued Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6), the Nation’s Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion (SNPP). Space nuclear systems power spacecraft for missions where alternative power sources are inadequate, such as environments that are too dark for solar power or too far away to carry sufficient quantities of chemical fuels. Space nuclear systems include radioisotope power systems and nuclear reactors used for power, heating, or propulsion. SPD-6 establishes high-level goals, principles, and a supporting roadmap that demonstrate the U.S. commitment to using SNPP systems safely, effectively, and responsibly.


Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council Scott Pace, Ph.D., said: “Space nuclear power and propulsion is a fundamentally enabling technology for American deep space missions to Mars and beyond. The United States intends to remain the leader among spacefaring Nations, applying nuclear power technology safely, securely, and sustainably in space.”


Director of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Kelvin Droegemeier, Ph.D., said: “We are living in an amazing time for science and space exploration, and Space Policy Directive-6 is yet another step forward in advancing discovery. Harnessing the power of space nuclear systems allows the United States to go farther, explore new frontiers, and aid American security. We are fortunate to have President Trump’s strong leadership in bolstering American space exploration.”  


SPD-6 establishes the following principles:


·       The United States will pursue goals for SNPP development and utilization that are both enabling and ambitious:


o   Develop capabilities that enable production of fuel suitable to a range of planetary surface and in-space SNPP applications;


o   Demonstrate a fission power system on the Moon;


o   Establish technical foundations and capabilities that will enable options for in-space nuclear propulsion; and


o   Develop advanced radioisotope power systems to enable survivable surface systems and extend robotic exploration of the solar system.


·       The United States will adhere to principles of safety, security, and sustainability in its development and utilization of SNPP systems.


·       The United States will pursue a coordinated roadmap for Federally supported SNPP activities and a framework to encourage commercial activities to achieve goals and uphold the principles established in this Directive.  


Click here for a fact sheet on Space Policy Directive-6.


Click here for text of Space Policy Directive-6.


This Directive builds on the 
Presidential Memorandum on Launch of Spacecraft Containing Space Nuclear Systems, issued on August 20, 2019.


On June 30, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order 13803, reviving the National Space Council “in order to provide a coordinated process for developing and monitoring the implementation of national space policy and strategy.” In addition to Space Policy Directive-6, President Trump has signed five previous Space Policy Directives and the National Space Policy to restore American leadership in areas of civil, commercial, and military space:


Space Policy Directive-1, Reinvigorating America’s Human Space Exploration Program


Space Policy Directive-2, Streamlining Regulations on Commercial Use of Space


Space Policy Directive-3, National Space Traffic Management Policy


Space Policy Directive-4, Establishment of the United States Space Force


Space Policy Directive-5, Cybersecurity Principles for Space Systems


The National Space Policy