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BWXT Delivers Reactor Fuels for NASA’s Nuclear Propulsion Project; Rob Smith Quoted

1 min read

BWX Technologies has delivered coated reactor fuels to NASA in support of the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s space nuclear propulsion project.

The company said Monday that the announcement positions BWXT as the first private company to deliver relevant coated fuels for use in scheduled NASA testing, which is expected to take place next year.

Dr. Rob Smith, president of government operations at BWXT, said, “This is a landmark accomplishment for BWXT, and we’re extremely proud to support these efforts toward one day seeing a crewed spaceflight travel farther than ever before.”

Smith added that the achievement represents a culmination of joint efforts by teams across the company’s national laboratories, manufacturing facilities and academic research operations.

BWXT is currently developing two forms of fuel for use in future reactor ground demonstrations, as well as a third, more advanced and energy-dense fuel for potential future evaluation.

The fuels BWXT delivered to NASA are expected to withstand extremely high temperatures and corrosive conditions, as well as propel a spacecraft to Mars and back using nuclear thermal propulsion.

Earlier this year, BWXT booked a 12-month, $5 million contract from the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory to develop a reactor design concept for a nuclear thermal propulsion system.

Additionally, the company will continue to support INL by producing fuel kernels, coated fuel kernels and fuel assembly design materials and manufacturing processes.

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