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DOD’s Innovation Arm Interested in Commercial Nuclear Propulsion Tech for Smaller Spacecraft

The Defense Innovation Unit is seeking commercially made lightweight technologies that could provide nuclear power and propulsion for small to medium military spacecraft sensing and communication systems.

DIU said the Department of Defense will need more electrical power for smaller spacecraft as future missions will expand on new capabilities such as methods for de-orbiting, orbital changes and material transfers between orbits.

The DOD is looking to adopt commercial platforms to address this requirement for near-term pursuits, while the department works on long-term projects for fission-based propulsion.

Areas of interest include features that provide heat in shadowed space environments, reduce ground personnel’s exposure to radiation and minimize the impact of ionizing radiation to a spacecraft’s electronic components.

The department plans to award other transaction agreements to finance prototyping efforts for the program.

Interested parties may submit multiple proposals through Sept. 23.

The solicitation follows the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s selection of General Atomics, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Blue Origin to conduct risk reduction work on nuclear thermal propulsion systems.

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