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The U.S. is planning to build nuclear moon rockets before China

Author : Saipriya Iyer | Published Date : 2020-02-26 

The Pentagon seems to have come up with a plan to accelerate space travel by extending its satellite’s reach closer to the moon by tens of thousands of miles. Apparently, the agency is working on developing an atomic-powered, high-tech, nuclear thermal propulsion engine to boost space expedition.

Reportedly, the U.S military is planning to launch maneuverable satellites between the moon and earth’s vast space, which is often called as cislunar space, before the Chinese.

Both Chinese and American space agencies along with privately-held corporations are doubling down their efforts to mine the moon for minerals. It is predicted that these minerals would play a pivotal role in furthering their deep-space missions while helping humanity to commence its first trip to Mars. 

Speaking on the move, Jared Adams, spokesperson, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), said that a nimble nuclear thermal propulsion vehicle would allow the agency to gain a perspective about the vivid activities that happen in this vast volume of space called cislunar space.

As per sources, the budget requested by DARPA includes $21 million for the DRACO (Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations) program.

However, the Congress offered $10 million to DARPA in 2020 for studying the DRACO engine. Meanwhile, the 2021 budget could enable the defense agency to build its components. According to the plan, DRACO will be tested by DARPA before leaving for U.S. Air Force’s routine operations.

Basically, DRACO is a tiny nuclear reactor on top of a space rocket. It is also called as a high-assay LEU (low-enriched uranium) nuclear-thermal propulsion system. The function of this reactor is to warm up propellant which would later accelerate through the nozzle, thrusting the satellite in the opposite path.

Essentially, this nuclear-thermal engines will not be launched from the Earth’s surface, instead it would be used while travelling long distances through space.

Source Credit: https://www.thedailybeast.com/pentagon-prepping-nuclear-moon-rocket-to-beat-china-into-cislunar-space

About Author

Saipriya Iyer

Saipriya Iyer

Saipriya Iyer presently works as a content developer for fractovia.org. Having dabbled with the domain of content creation for nearly half a decade, she now boasts of an enviable portfolio, holding substantial experience in penning down pieces related to technology, finance, and a wide spectrum of other industry verticals. A qualified computer engineering graduate from the University of Pune, Saipriya can often be found leveraging her knowledge of software technology and electronics in her write-ups. She can be contacted at- [email protected] | https://twitter.com/saipriya_i

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