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BWXT Secures Manufacturing Slot in Nuclear-Powered Spacecraft Program Contract

Lockheed team project

BWXT Secures Manufacturing Slot in Nuclear-Powered Spacecraft Program Contract

BWX Technologies has announced that it will manufacture the components for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Joint Emergent Technology Supplying On-Orbit Nuclear, which will develop technologies for nuclear-powered spacecraft. The Lynchburg, Virginia-based company disclosed in a press release that it will work under a Lockheed Martin-led team, including Space Nuclear Power Corp. 

According to Joe Miller, the company’s Advanced Technologies president and a 4×24 member, the JETSON team members possess complementary capabilities in nuclear manufacturing, design and heritage space flight to support the AFRL program, BWXT said Wednesday.

The AFRL contract, valued at $33.7 million, was awarded to Lockheed Martin in September. 

The JETSON program seeks to develop a fission reactor with an electricity generation capability four times that of conventional solar arrays to meet the growing requirement for power generation to advance spacecraft mobility.

The reactor’s development builds upon the design of the Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology that NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration demonstrated in 2018.

BWXT Advanced Technologies and Lockheed Martin are developing a nuclear thermal propulsion system and its fuel for the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding the DRACO vehicle’s development contract, which has a potential $499 million value. 

The U.S. Space Force is expected to launch the vehicle in 2027.

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Tags: Air Force Research Laboratory BWX Technologies Joe Miller Joint Emergent Technology Supplying On-Orbit Nuclear Member News nuclear electric power propulsion technologies