NASA and DARPA will build a nuclear rocket by 2027
NASA wants to design and demonstrate a working nuclear thermal rocket by 2027, News.Az reports citing Space.com.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson introduced the project on Tuesday (Jan. 24) during a presentation at the 2023 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) SciTech Forum and Exposition held in National Harbor, Maryland.
Nelson said that the agency will partner with the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in order to "develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear thermal propulsion, a revolutionary technology that will allow the United States to expand the possibilities for future human spaceflight missions."
Under the agreement, NASA will join DARPA's Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations, or DRACO, a program that began in 2021. The program seeks to develop a nuclear thermal engine that will be used by an experimental spacecraft designed by DARPA. DARPA will develop the nuclear reactor and engine for this nuclear rocket, which the agency and NASA hope to fly in an in-space demonstration as early as 2027. Nelson called the partnership an "exciting investment in the future of human space exploration" and "a major investment in getting to Mars."