NASA, Pentagon collaborate on atomic spacecraft

(MENAFN) In order to create a nuclear-powered spaceship for trips to the moon and Mars, the United States space agency revealed on Tuesday that it was renewing a 1960s relationship with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

“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 declared, noting that the two agencies are going to “ignite the future, together.”

The Pentagon's research branch will be the primary contractor for creating the reactor and the engine, with NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in charge of "technical development for the nuclear thermal engine." The future vessel was designated the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations, or DRACO. The spacecraft and engine is going to be "in-space demonstration" by NASA and DARPA "as early as 2027."

The two organizations have a "long history of fruitful collaboration," according to DARPA director Stefanie Tompkins, dating back to the 1960s Apollo lunar program's usage of the Saturn V rocket and current satellite refueling.


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