NASA collaborates with Pentagon for nuclear spaceships

(MENAFN) The US space agency stated on Tuesday that it was vitalizing a 1960s deal with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), seeking to improve an atomic-powered spaceship for travel to the moon and Mars.

“NASA will work with our long-term partner, DARPA, to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear thermal propulsion technology as soon as 2027,” Administrator Bill Nelson announced, noting that the two organizations will “ignite the future, together.”

While NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) will be responsible for the “technical development for the nuclear thermal engine,” the Pentagon’s research branch will be the top contractor for improving the reactor and the engine. The future ship was called the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations, or DRACO.

NASA and DARPA wish to have an “in-space demonstration” of the spaceship and the engine “as early as 2027.”

DARPA executive Stefanie Tompkins said that both agencies have a “long history of fruitful collaboration,” from the Saturn V rocket used by the 1960s Apollo moon program to satellite refueling in recent times.


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