President Donald Trump has issued a new space policy that will help advance the next big leap for NASA and humanity – create a sustainable presence on the moon and send astronauts to Mars.
The president issued Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6) on Wednesday, December 16, the nation’s strategy for space nuclear energy and propulsion (SNPP) These are too dark for solar energy or too far away to be sufficient to transport chemical fuels.
Space nuclear systems include radioisotope power systems and nuclear reactors used for electricity, heating, or propulsion. SPD-6 sets high-level goals, principles, and a supporting roadmap that demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the safe, effective, and responsible use of SNPP systems.
“NASA strongly supports the continued leadership of the White House in the Agency’s Artemis program, which includes the landing of the first woman and next man on the moon in 2024. On the moon, we will prepare for new scientific and human missions, that go deeper into the solar system, “he said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“SPD-6 supports the agency’s efforts to develop affordable, safe, and reliable nuclear systems, including technologies that enable continued operations on other worlds and advance future human missions to Mars.”
In support of SPD-6, NASA’s short-term priority is to mature and then demonstrate a fission surface energy system on the moon. NASA, the Department of Energy, and industry will design, manufacture, and test a 10 kilowatt split-surface power system. NASA plans to demonstrate the system on the moon in the late 2020s, provide energy for sustainable lunar surface operations, and test its potential for use on Mars.
The space agency is also advancing nuclear thermal and nuclear electric propulsion capabilities. Nuclear propulsion can enable robust human exploration beyond the moon. For crewed missions to the Red Planet, a traditional chemical propulsion system would require prohibitively high fuel mass.
In addition to reducing risk and maturing reactor designs, NASA is part of efforts by the Department of Energy and Defense to develop nuclear fuel technology and manufacturing capabilities for propulsion systems.
SPD-6 defines the following principles:
o The United States will have goals for the development and use of SNPP that are both enabling and ambitious:
o Developing skills to produce fuel suitable for a range of SNPP applications on planetary surfaces and in space;
o Demonstrate a splitting force system on the moon.
o Creation of technical foundations and skills that enable options for nuclear propulsion in space; and
o Develop advanced radioisotope energy systems to enable survivable surface systems and expand robotic exploration of the solar system.
o The United States will adhere to the principles of safety and sustainability in the development and use of SNPP systems.
o The United States will have a coordinated roadmap for federal government-sponsored SNPP activities and a framework to encourage commercial activities to achieve the goals and comply with the principles set out in the policy.
US Space Directive-6
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com
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