NASA partners with Pentagon for nuclear-powered space shuttle – Reuters
DARPA is working with the US space agency to develop a nuclear-powered spacecraft to Mars
The US space agency announced on Tuesday that it is reviving a 1960s partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) aimed at developing a nuclear-powered spacecraft that will travel to the Moon and Mars.
“NASA is working with our long-time partner DARPA to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear thermal engine technology in early 2027,” he said. Administrator Bill Nelson added that the two agencies “We ignite the future together.”
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) will be responsible “Technical development of nuclear heat engine”, The Pentagon’s research division will be the prime contractor for reactor and engine development. The future craft was called the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations, or DRACO.
NASA and DARPA hope there is “Demo in Space” spacecraft and engine “From 2027”.
DARPA Director Stephanie Tompkins noted that there are two agencies “A long history of fruitful cooperation”, From the Saturn V rocket used by the Apollo moon program in the 1960s to modern satellite refueling.
The DRACO program enables “Great Advances in Space Technology” in that field “Critical to modern commerce, scientific innovation, and national security,” Tomkins added.
A nuclear heat engine uses a fission reactor to heat liquid fuel in the process “three times or more efficient than conventional chemical motion,” According to NASA. Although NASA has been trying to build such an engine for decades, “Recent advances in aerospace materials and engineering enable a new era of space nuclear technology,” said STMD Community Administrator Jim Reuter.
In the 1960s, Project Orion, a joint venture between NASA and DARPA, envisioned a spacecraft powered by guided bursts of fissionable bombs. To secure military funding, the project also a “space warship”, Orbital nuclear missile platform for the Pentagon.
Orion was discontinued for practical and legal reasons. The Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons in space, and the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 prohibited the deployment of any weapons of mass destruction in Earth orbit and beyond.
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