NASA and DARPA discuss new advanced propulsion technology

NASA and DARPA discuss new advanced propulsion technology
NASA and DARPA discuss new advanced propulsion technology
Artist’s conception of a spacecraft powered by nuclear thermal propulsion.
Drawing: Nasa

Two of America’s most forward-thinking agencies are joining forces to drive the development of advanced space propulsion. A fireside chat about the new collaboration is scheduled for Tuesday morning, and you can watch it live here.

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) 2023 SciTech Forums is officially underway in National Harbor, Maryland. The theme for this year’s conference is “Exploring the Frontiers of Aerospace,” and it will take place today through Friday at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Forum speakers will discuss the future of space and planetary exploration, aeronautics, climate research and earth sciences, among other subjects.

It should be noted that a roundtable will be held on Tuesday, January 24 at 10:00 a.m. ET, during which officials from NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA – the secret of the Pentagon the research wing – “will discuss inter-agency collaboration to advance space propulsion technologies for civilian and defense efforts,” such as the AIAA describe conversation by the fireside.

NASA Live: Official NASA TV stream

The session will be available on NASA televisionthe NASA app and the agency app website. You can also watch it on the live stream above.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will deliver a keynote, after which Steven Howe, the former director of the Center for Space Nuclear Research (CSNR), will moderate a two-person panel consisting of NASA Deputy Administrator, Pam Melroy, and DARPA Director Stefanie Tompkins. Melroy has a connection to DARPA, as she served as Deputy Director of its Tactical Technology Office from 2013 to 2017.

It’s unclear how much the panelists will dig into the details, but it would be great to have some concrete information on the types of advanced space propulsion technologies that NASA and DARPA will seek to develop, as well as descriptions of possible future applications. Updates on ongoing projects, such as spacecraft powered by thermal nuclear propulsion, would also be welcome. NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently granted Phase I status and $175,000 funding to a University of Florida team working on a nuclear engine concept that could take a spacecraft to Mars in just 45 days.

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This should make for a fascinating conversation, and I look forward to hearing more about the collaboration and how the two agencies plan to work together.

Following: Planes on Titan and pipelines on the Moon: NASA envisions some wild future technologies

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