US military picks 3 companies to test nuclear propulsion in Space

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has picked three big space com­pa­nies for the first phase of a larg­er project to test nuclear propul­sion above low Earth orbit by 2025.

Gen­er­al Atom­ics, Blue Ori­gin and Lock­heed Mar­tin each received con­tracts for the Demon­stra­tion Rock­et for Agile Cis­lu­nar Oper­a­tions (DRACO) pro­gram’s first phase. While DARPA did not dis­close the con­tract val­ues in its announce­ment, media out­let Space News report­ed Gen­er­al Atom­ics received $22 mil­lion, Lock­heed Mar­tin $2.9 mil­lion and Blue Ori­gin $2.5 million.

The teams were select­ed due to their abil­i­ty to devel­op and deploy advanced sys­tems for reac­tors, propul­sion and space­craft, DARPA offi­cials said in a state­ment. The agency par­tic­u­lar­ly empha­sized the need for “rapid maneu­ver” for mil­i­tary sys­tems but said this is dif­fi­cult in space with con­ven­tion­al systems.

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