The Ministry of Defense is looking for nuclear propulsion technology for its satellites in the industry to free them from the constraints of the current low power generation capacity of electric and solar propulsion.
These traditional systems have largely served government space systems well. Once they reach their intended orbit, most satellites don’t have to move much. Propulsion systems are generally used to reposition satellites when they drift out of their designated position, or to avoid collisions while occasionally repositioning satellites to continue their mission.
Future US however, military missions may require much greater maneuverability and performance. U.S. missions will need more electricity to change trajectories more often, put other objects on new trajectories, and operate outside the orbit around the Earth, according to a September 9 call from the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).
In addition, due to the increased capabilities of small satellites and box satellites, the reduction in the size of many space systems also limits the volume of future propulsion systems. In other words, the military wants more energy, but not simply by building bigger propulsion systems or adding more solar panels. they can provide electricity to small and medium-sized spacecraft. Interested companies that can present a prototype development plan within three to five years can be awarded official contracts to support laboratory prototype development of such systems, followed by in-flight testing
This is not the first time that soldiers are immersed in the development of nuclear-powered spacecraft. Last April, DARPA awarded a contract to three companies to design a nuclear propulsion system in space. The goal of the program is to build a nuclear thermal propulsion that allows for rapid maneuvering in space, especially for cislunar operations. General Atomics, Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin are the main contractors in this effort.
Meanwhile, the companies have started offering commercial services that can upload satellites or supplement them with their own propulsion system. SpaceLogistics, for example, has unveiled a vehicle called the Mission Extension Vehicle, which connects to a customer’s orbiting satellite and then maneuvers it with its own propulsion system. Orbit Fab, in which Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have recently invested, is building orbiting fuel stations around the Earth. These efforts offer another opportunity to bring greater maneuverability and longevity from existing propulsion systems.
https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield- tech / space / 2021/09/10 / pentagon-applause-industry-for-nuclear-powered-propulsion-for-its-satellites /
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