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White House Issues New Directive on Space Nuclear Power, Propulsion Tech Development

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President Trump has signed a new space policy directive establishing a national strategy to support the development and use of space nuclear power and propulsion (SNPP) systems.

A White House memorandum published Wednesday says SPD-6 includes goals for SNPP development and use, including the development of uranium fuel processing capabilities by mid-2020s, demonstration of a fission power system on the lunar surface by mid- to late-2020s and development of radioisotope power system capabilities by 2030.

Under the directive, the U.S. should adhere to safety, sustainability and security principles when it comes to SNPP systems development and use.

The document also outlines responsibilities for heads of some cabinet agencies. For instance, the secretary of the Department of Defense should conduct and support efforts related to SNPP tech development and utilization to achieve national security objectives, while the NASA administrator should come up with performance requirements for SNPP capabilities.