Lockheed Martin to build nuclear-powered rocket for Mars missions

By: Maksim Panasovskyi | 28.07.2023, 17:29
Lockheed Martin to build nuclear-powered rocket for Mars missions

NASA has determined which company will be engaged in the construction of a rocket for flights to Mars. The general contractor was Lockheed Martin.

Here's What We Know

Naturally, Lockheed Martin will not be alone engaged in the creation of a new rocket. Many companies will participate in the project, including BWX Technologies. It is designing a nuclear thermal engine for the missile.

Lockheed Martin's task will be to integrate all components, including the propulsion system. The launch of the demonstration version of the rocket is scheduled for 2027. The work will take place as part of the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) programme, which was announced three years ago.

The space agency has agreed to invest up to $300 million in the project. Most of the amount (up to $250 million) will be spent on the design and development of the nuclear engine, expertise and technical oversight.

As we wrote above, BWX Technologies is designing the propulsion system. Previously, Gryphon Technologies, Blue Origin and General Atomics took part in the project.

Atomic thermal engine is based on heating the working body at the expense of the energy that arises during nuclear fission. Such solutions can create 100-400% more thrust compared to chemical rocket engines.

NASA believes that the use of nuclear propulsion systems will significantly reduce the duration of the flight from Earth to Mars. This will keep astronauts healthy by reducing the time spent in an environment with strong radiation.

Source: Lockheed Martin