On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump signed the Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6), which sets out a plan to explore the cosmos using nuclear fission.
Basically, SPD-6 is a call to the development and promotion of nuclear reactors at power stations in other worlds, according Space.comdamage, as well as nuclear propulsion systems for the missiles that will take us there. NASA is no stranger to nuclear power, but the rise of technology could make it easier to set up base camps on the moon, Mars, and possibly beyond.
NASA has used nuclear propulsion systems many times, such as with Voyager spacecraft and New Horizons and Curiosity missions. Space.com reports. But the SPD-6 calls for more extensive use of nuclear propulsion, which experts say could greatly improve its ability to travel reliably to and from Mars and other worlds.
“Nuclear power and space propulsion are a fundamental technology that will enable American missions in deep space on Mars and beyond,” said Scott Pace, executive secretary of the National Space Council. Space.com. “The United States intends to remain the leader among space nations by applying safe, secure and sustainable nuclear technology in space.”
If the US actually reaches other worlds, the SPD-6 also calls for the development of nuclear reactors that would help the space agency stay there.
NASA is already developing small reactors to support a base or colony on the moon – and eventually on Mars. Now, the new directive requires them to be ready by the end of the decade.
READ MORE: Trump signs the Space Policy-6 Directive on nuclear energy and space propulsion [Space.com]
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