The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s research and development arm, is funding the construction of the world’s first nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system for spacecraft.
The system, which is called the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO), uses nuclear fission instead of traditional rocket fuel, making for a faster, more efficient space propulsion system. NASA sees NTP as the system that could take humans to Mars and beyond.
Earlier this week, DARPA announced it picked General Atomics, Blue Origin, and Lockheed Martin to build DRACO. The goal is to send DRACO into low-Earth orbit in 2025.
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