DARPA seeks proposals leading to in-space demonstration of nuclear thermal rocket
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) May 05, 2022
DARPA is seeking proposals for Phases 2 and 3 of the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program for the design, development, fabrication, and assembly of a nuclear thermal rocket engine. The goal is to execute an in-space flight demonstration of nuclear thermal propulsion in fiscal year 2026.
The overall objective of DRACO is to enable time-critical missions over vast distances in cislunar space, the area between Earth and the moon. Nuclear thermal propulsion achieves high thrust-to-weight similar to chemical propulsion but with two to five times the efficiency using systems that are both faster and smaller than electric and chemical systems, respectively. These propulsive capabilities will enable the United States to enhance its interests in space and to expand possibilities for NASA's long-duration human spaceflight missions.
Phase 1 of the DRACO program involved two parallel risk reduction activities. Track A focused on developing a preliminary design for the rocket engine reactor. Track B concentrated on developing a conceptual design for the in-orbit demonstration system.
DRACO's planned Phases 2 and 3 will focus on developing and demonstrating nuclear thermal rocket engine operation in orbit. The Broad Agency Announcement can be found at sam.gov.
"The United States employs maneuver to maintain advantages in the land, sea, and air domains. However, maneuver is more challenging in space due to propulsion system limitations," said Major Nathan Greiner, program manager in DARPA's Tactical Technology Office. "To maintain technological superiority in space, the United States requires leap-ahead propulsion technology that the DRACO program will provide."
Successful test launch a giant leap for rocketry team
Sydney, Australia (SPX) May 03, 2022
Students of the University of Sydney's rocketry society, the USYD Rocketry Team, have their eyes firmly set on gold after successfully launching their 2022 competition rocket in New South Wales's far west. After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the team will fly to the US in June to compete at Spaceport America Cup, an international student rocketry competition held annually in New Mexico. Last week, the student team's rocket, Bluewren, soared to a target height of 30,000 feet - roughly 9 kilomet ... read more
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