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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:

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
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded BWXT Nuclear Energy a $18.8 million contract to initiate conceptual designs for a nuclear thermal propulsion reactor in support of a possible future manned mission to Mars. BWXT Nuclear Energy is a subsidiary of nuclear components, fuel and services provider BWX Technologies, which is based in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Date: Friday, 04 August 2017
Original article: BWXT-c

On the drawing board, another nuclear-powered rover (Image: NASA)

A nuclear power source is likely to sustain NASA's next exploration of Mars - a robot that will take a package of samples for return to Earth and address gaps in the knowledge required for manned exploration.

Date: Friday, 12 July 2013
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