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The US Administration has issued a new directive on the use of nuclear power and propulsion in space. Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6) establishes high-level goals, principles, roles and responsibilities, and a supporting roadmap demonstrating the nation's commitment to the safe, effective and responsible use of space nuclear power and propulsion (SNPP) systems.

Date: Friday, 18 December 2020
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/US-Administration-issues-Space-Policy-Directive

The US government yesterday announced the release of the National Space Policy, which advocates for developing and deploying nuclear power and propulsion systems on US space missions. The document specifies who, or which government agency, is responsible for various aspects of their development and deployment.

Date: Friday, 11 December 2020
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/US-looks-to-nuclear-propulsion-systems-to-reach-sp

An artist’s rendition of KiloPower reactors powering a human habitat on Mars. Courtesy SpaceNukes/NASA/Los Alamos. The US government’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has signed an agreement to licence its Kilopower space reactor technology to Space Nuclear Power Corporation (SpaceNukes), a move it says will speed up a nuclear reactor technology that could be used to fuel deep-space exploration and possibly power human habitats on the Moon or Mars.

The Kilopower technology was developed at the laboratory in partnership with NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration. Patrick McClure, who served as project lead for Kilopower at Los Alamos and is now a partner in SpaceNukes, said that by creating a new company, Kilopower’s founders are hoping to be able to reach potential new sponsors “who will want to take this technology to the next level and put it into space”.

Kilopower is a small, lightweight fission power system capable of providing various ranges of power depending on the need. For example, SpaceNukes offers low-kilowatt reactors to power deep space missions, middle-range reactors in the tens of kilowatts to power a lunar or martian habitat, and much larger reactors in the hundreds of kilowatts that could make enough propellant for a rocket to return to Earth after a stay on Mars.

Date: Saturday, 07 November 2020
Original article: nucnet.org/news/new-us-company-to-develop-los-alamos-kilopower-reactor-11-5-2020

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has agreed to license Kilopower space reactor technology to New Mexico company Space Nuclear Power Corporation (SpaceNukes), which aims to commercialise the technology for use in space in the next few years.

Date: Saturday, 07 November 2020
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Los-Alamos-spin-off-to-commercialise-space-reactor

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has developed arrangements to help countries respond quickly to protect the public and the environment in the event of an accident involving radioactive materials launched into orbit or travelling in spacecraft.

Date: Friday, 30 October 2020
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/IAEA-webinar-addresses-space-safety

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have agreed to extend their existing cooperation by a further 10 years. One area for continued cooperation is space nuclear power and propulsion.

Date: Thursday, 22 October 2020
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/US-DOE-extends-its-cooperation-with-space-agency

Gryphon Technologies has been awarded a USD14 million task order by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to support its Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) programme. Specifically, Gryphon will support the development and demonstration of a high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system.

Date: Thursday, 01 October 2020
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Gryphon-to-help-develop-HALEU-fuelled-cislunar-roc

A design concept for a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) reactor to power future astronaut missions to Mars has exceeded key performance parameters and optimised the reactor for manufacturability, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has announced. The reactor's features include a compact core thanks to the use of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel.

Date: Friday, 18 September 2020
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/GA-delivers-HALEU-fuelled-reactor-concept-for-Mars

The design was produced as part of a NASA-funded study Image courtesy General Atomics US-based General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has delivered a design concept for a nuclear thermal propulsion reactor to power future astronaut missions to Mars.

The design was produced as part of a NASA-funded study. GA-EMS said its design exceeded the key performance parameters requested by NASA.

The reactor concept incorporates advancements in modern nuclear materials and manufacturing methods with experience from GA-EMS’s involvement on NASA Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Project Rover in the 1960s. Project Rover was one of the first programmes to demonstrate the feasibility of space-based nuclear thermal propulsion.

GA fabricated approximately six tonnes of the nuclear fuel kernels for the project. In 1965, the company was also directly involved in nuclear fuel testing and characterisation for the SNAP-10A reactor, the only US nuclear power reactor launched into space, which powered the satellite for 43 days. The fuel used for that reactor is the same fuel that has been used since the 1950s in General Atomics Triga reactors.

Date: Wednesday, 16 September 2020
Original article: nucnet.org/news/general-atomics-submits-nuclear-reactor-concept-for-missions-to-mars-9-2-2020

US-based General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has delivered a design concept of a Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) reactor to power future astronaut missions to Mars for a NASA-funded study.

Date: Tuesday, 15 September 2020
Original article: neimagazine.com/news/newsnasa-studies-general-atomics-reactor-design-for-mars-missions-8132668