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BWXT Delivers Fuel to NASA to Support Nuclear Thermal Propulsion
by Staff Writers
Lynchburg VA (SPX) Dec 15, 2021

BWXT produces a variety of fuels that enable diverse mission concepts - from high-temperature coated fuels for space exploration to TRISO fuels for terrestrial use in microreactors.

BWX Technologies, Inc. has reached a critical milestone in the nation's pursuit of space nuclear propulsion by delivering coated reactor fuels to NASA in support of its space nuclear propulsion project within the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate.

Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) is one of the technologies that is capable of propelling a spacecraft to Mars and back. Innovative new nuclear fuels and reactors required for the mission must be able to withstand the extremely high temperatures and corrosive conditions experienced in the engine during spaceflight.

BWXT has been able to leverage its decades of specialty and coated fuel manufacturing experience as well as its existing licensed production facilities to be the first private company to deliver relevant coated fuels that will be used in NASA testing scheduled next year.

"This is a landmark accomplishment for BWXT, and we're extremely proud to support these efforts toward one day seeing a crewed spaceflight travel farther than ever before," Government Operations President Dr. Rob Smith said. "This is a credit to everyone engaged in this endeavor in our labs and manufacturing facilities, the teams at the national laboratories, and the academic researchers who are all working together to achieve this goal."

Under the terms of a previously announced contract awarded to BWXT by Idaho National Laboratory, the company will continue to produce fuel kernels, coated fuel kernels, and design materials and manufacturing processes for fuel assemblies.

BWXT is developing two fuel forms in support of a reactor ground demonstration by the late 2020s. BWXT is also designing a third, more advanced and more energy-dense fuel form that could be evaluated in the future.

Spacecraft using NTP technology have several advantages over conventional chemical-propellant designs. NTP is a lower-mass and more efficient propulsion system that allows astronauts to travel through space faster, reducing exposure to cosmic radiation and enabling return flights.

BWXT produces a variety of fuels that enable diverse mission concepts - from high-temperature coated fuels for space exploration to TRISO fuels for terrestrial use in microreactors.

Related Links
BWX Technologies, Inc.
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

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