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DARPA Soliciting Proposals for Phases 2 & 3 of Nuclear Thermal Rocket Demo Program; Maj. Nathan Greiner Quoted

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting proposals for the second and third phases of a demonstration program that seeks to design, develop, fabricate and assemble a nuclear thermal rocket engine for spacecraft use.

DARPA said Wednesday that Phases 2 and 3 of the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations program will center on the creation of a demonstration system for the nuclear thermal propulsion and its in-space flight test.

The DRACO initiative was launched in an effort to potentially expand the long-duration human spaceflight operations of NASA with the use of a nuclear thermal rocket engine, which is anticipated to provide high thrust-to-weight output and enhanced efficiency.

“Maneuver is more challenging in space due to propulsion system limitations. To maintain technological superiority in space, the United States requires leap-ahead propulsion technology that the DRACO program will provide,” said Maj. Nathan Greiner, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.

The first phase of the program focused on risk reduction activities. Responses to the presolicitation notice are due Aug. 5th.