Lockheed Martin has hit the jackpot, scoring a whopping $33.7 million contract from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for a cosmic mission called JETSON.
This mission is not about chasing aliens or discovering new galaxies, but it’s all about turning up the heat in the vast vacuum of space.
JETSON Unveiled: Nuclear-Powered Space Adventure
JETSON, short for Joint Emergent Technology Supplying On-Orbit Nuclear, is not your typical space odyssey. It’s more like a high-stakes game where Lockheed Martin aims to revolutionize the way we power spacecraft.
The plan? Launch a fission reactor into space, let it fire up, and voila! It generates heat like a cosmic campfire. This heat is then channeled into Stirling power converters, magically turning it into electricity.
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The NASA Connection: Building on KRUSTY’s Legacy
This is not some sci-fi daydream; it’s rooted in NASA’s Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology (KRUSTY) demo back in 2018.
JETSON is taking that legacy and running with it, sprinting towards a future where nuclear power reigns supreme in space exploration.
Lockheed’s Vision: A Cosmic Paradigm Shift
Barry Miles, the brains behind JETSON at Lockheed Martin, is thrilled. He declares that nuclear fission development for space applications is the game-changer we’ve been waiting for.
According to him, this technology could be the cosmic equivalent of switching from a bicycle to a rocket ship.
“From high-power electrical subsystem and electric propulsion to nuclear thermal propulsion or fission surface power, Lockheed Martin is focused on developing these systems with our important government agencies and industry partners,” Miles states enthusiastically.
Dream Team: Lockheed, SpaceNukes, and BWXT
But wait, there’s more. Lockheed Martin isn’t embarking on this space escapade alone. They’ve recruited the expertise of Space Nuclear Power Corp (SpaceNukes) and BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT).
These partners know their nuclear power, and together they are cooking up a revolutionary recipe for space energy.
Behind the Scenes: Project Status
The JETSON project is in its early stages, twirling in the preliminary design review stage. The excitement is palpable, with the option to kick it up a notch to the critical design review level.
It’s like waiting for a blockbuster movie’s release, only this one involves nuclear reactors in space.
Andy Phelps, CEO of SpaceNukes, spills the cosmic beans, hinting at a future JETSON flight experiment that will boost maneuverability and power capabilities. It seems like the space force is gearing up for a power-packed performance in the vastness of the cosmos.
Contracts Galore: Intuitive Machines Joins the Cosmic Party
Lockheed Martin isn’t the only one cashing in on the space extravaganza. Houston-based startup Intuitive Machines snagged a sweet $9.4 million contract under the JETSON umbrella.
Their mission? Design a spacecraft concept that dances to the rhythm of a compact radioisotope power system. And if that’s not enough, they’re gearing up to launch their private moon lander in January. Talk about aiming for the stars!
Lockheed’s Winning Streak
This recent victory for Lockheed Martin in the space nuclear power domain is not a one-hit wonder.
Back in July, NASA and the U.S. military handpicked Lockheed to spearhead a spacecraft project called DRACO (“Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations”).
This ambitious project could redefine space propulsion, promising a system that’s several times more efficient than traditional chemical methods.
Lockheed Martin is leading the charge in the cosmic game of technological leapfrog. Buckle up, fellow earthlings; it’s a thrilling ride into the future of space exploration, powered by nuclear innovation.
And who knows, maybe one day we’ll be cruising through the cosmos on the cosmic equivalent of a nuclear-powered rocket ship. Until then, stay tuned for more space sagas and groundbreaking adventures in the final frontier.