Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program is beginning the next phase of an experiment to assess the feasibility of nuclear-powered propulsion systems operating between the Earth and the Moon.
This article by Courtney Albon, writing for Defense News, makes the following points:
- The area between Earth and the Moon is known as ‘cislunar’ space.
- DARPA awarded General Atomics a $22 million contract to develop a design for a nuclear thermal propulsion reactor and subsystem—the centrepiece of the program.
- Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin each won contracts valued at $2.5 million and $2.9 million to design a spacecraft using a nuclear thermal propulsion system.
- In the past few years, the US Defense Department has changed its posture toward cislunar space, shifting from an earlier view that deep-space threats were part of a distant future.
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