The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded a $ 14 million task order to Griffon Technologies, a Washington, DC company that provides engineering and technical solutions to national security organizations.
The money will support DARPA’s demonstration rocket for agile jurisprudence operations (DRACO) program, whose main goal is to perform a Nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system in Earth’s orbit.
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NTP systems use fission reactors to heat hydrogen to extreme temperatures, then vent the gas through nozzles to create thrust. The technique boasts a thrust-to-weight ratio of about 10,000 times higher than an electric propulsion system and a specific impulse, or propellant efficiency, two to five times higher than conventional chemical rockets, DARPA officials wrote in a is Description of DRACO program.
The DRACO description reads, “The amount of space between Earth and the Moon – such improvements in propulsion techniques are needed to maintain space awareness” reads the DRACO statement.
Griffon will work to help make this vision a reality, using the newly awarded $ 14 million.
“We are proud to support the development and performance of DRACO and NTP, a significant technological advancement in efforts to achieve populist space awareness,” Griffon CEO PJ Brayden Said in a statement.
DARPA is not alone in seeing great promise in NTP systems. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein has praised the technology’s ability for the crew to explore Mars, for example, given that the NTP-powered spacecraft can receive Red Planet astronauts in just three to four months – About half the time required for conventional chemical rockets.
“It’s totally a game-changer that NASA is trying to achieve,” Breidenstein said during the National Space Council meeting last year. (NASA is working to bring astronauts to the red planet in the 2030s.) “It gives us the opportunity to protect life, when we talk about radiation dose while traveling between Earth and Mars Huh.”
Mike Wall, author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tait), a book about the discovery of alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.