BWX Technologies announced on Thursday that NASA has awarded its subsidiary, BWXT Advanced Technologies, a one-year $9.4 million contract to continue its Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) design, manufacturing development and test support work. The contract builds on BWXT“™s work that started in 2017.
“Our designers and engineers have been working with teams at NASA, Department of Energy national laboratories and academia to help the United States accomplish one of humankind“™s ultimate goals: to send astronauts to another planet and return them safely,“ said Ken Camplin, president of BWXT“™s Nuclear Services Group.
The NTP is a technology that is capable of propelling a spacecraft to Mars. The contract requires BWXT to focus primarily on nuclear fuel design and engineering efforts. BWXT will have to produce fuel kernels, coat the fuel kernels and design materials and fuel assembly manufacturing processes. The company will also develop conceptual reactor designs.
NASA“™s NTP initiative has moved from Space Technology Mission Directorate“™s Game Changing Development program to its Technology Demonstration Mission program. BWXT has evaluated different fission fuels and reactor options and developed conceptual reactor designs. The company has also tailored fuel design to High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU) and delivered specialty fuel particles for testing.
The contract work will be executed at BWXT“™s facilities.