nuclear thermal propulsion
Space vehicles powered by small nuclear reactors could be used for military missions in deep space, the vice chief of the U.S. Space Force said July 28.
House appropriators approve NASA spending bill with revised lunar lander and nuclear propulsion language
The House Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill July 15 that leaves intact overall funding for NASA but tweaks language regarding the Human Landing System and nuclear thermal propulsion.
NASA has selected three teams of companies to perform concept studies of nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) reactors while making plans to fund similar studies for nuclear surface power systems.
DARPA awarded a $22 million contract to General Atomics to design a small nuclear reactor for space propulsion.
NASA needs to pursue “aggressive” development of space nuclear propulsion technologies if the agency wants to use them for human missions to Mars in the next two decades, a report by a National Academies committee concluded.
Uncertain overall funding and congressional direction to increase funding on specific projects could create pressure on NASA’s space technology program, an agency official warned Sept. 1.
A revised policy for approving the launch of spacecraft with nuclear power systems is the latest measure intended to support greater use of nuclear power systems in orbit and beyond.
With congressional funding and industry support, nuclear thermal propulsion technology is making progress for potential use on future NASA deep space missions, although how it fits into the agency’s exploration architectures remains uncertain.