Blue Origin: The United States Defense Research and Advanced Projects Agency, DARPA, announced on Monday (12) the choice of two companies to build a new nuclear rocket for use in space missions.
Those selected are Lockheed Martin, a long-time partner in the supply of equipment for military use, and Blue Origin, a space exploration company founded by Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk’s main SpaceX rival. In addition, General Atomics will take care of one of the initial testing steps.
The idea involves building a spaceship with a rocket that operates from thermonuclear propulsion – that is, it generates heat from nuclear fusion or fission and uses that energy to heat liquid fuel, increasing the efficiency of the system. The project is called the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations, or DRACO.
This technology was still thought of in the 1970s, but was left aside by the United States for budgetary reasons. As materials and manufacturing methods are more taken into account, this fuel-burning format is once again viable in the industry.
The first goal of the DRACO project is to launch modules in Earth orbit by 2025, in addition to testing the ability to perform maneuvers between the Earth and the Moon. Only the objective is much more daring: to build ships capable of manned missions to Mars .