In remarks addressed to a meeting of the National Space Council on May 19, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said that the development and deployment of small modular reactors could provide sustainable power sources for space applications.
Details: Brouillette pointed to the partnership the DOE has with NASA to demonstrate nuclear thermal propulsion and surface fission reactors, which will support power requirements for crew transportation to the moon, and eventually Mars, as well as help power the outposts envisioned there “With nuclear propulsion,” he said, “we can potentially cut the time of space travel to Mars by half, while offering increased mission flexibility.”
There’s more: Another nuclear-related area Brouillette cited was the collaboration among the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, the Department of Defense, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA for the release of space weather data collected by DOE-developed space-based nuclear explosion monitoring payloads. He said that the DOE will rely on those experiences to grow its cooperation and engagement with the newly formed U.S. Space Force by identifying technical capabilities that could support its critical mission.
They said it: “One of the most fundamental needs for any space mission is a reliable and sustained supply of power, and this is where we at DOE come to the fore,” Brouillette said. “Specifically, as part of a broader strategy to regain American global leadership in nuclear energy, we’re leading efforts with the private sector to promote the development and deployment of small modular reactors and microreactors, technologies that could be modified to provide sustainable power sources for space applications such as surface power and nuclear thermal propulsion.”