… c4isrnet.com … DARPA chooses three firms to design nuclear-powered space vehicle …The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has picked three companies to design a nuclear thermal propulsion system that will operate above low Earth orbit in 2025, the U.S. agency announced (*) April 12.
General Atomics, Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin received contract awards and will be the prime contractors for the first phase of the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations, or DRACO, program.
DARPA believes nuclear-powered propulsion could enable rapid maneuver in space — a capability that is difficult to achieve with current electric and chemical propulsion systems.
The agency claims DRACO’s nuclear thermal propulsion, or NTP, system could potentially deliver the high thrust-to-weight ratios of a chemical propulsion system with the high propellent efficiency of an electric system.
That would give U.S. military systems the agility the Pentagon wants for cislunar operations.
(*) … darpa.mil … DARPA Selects Performers for Phase 1 of Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) Program …