This paper discusses the current challenges of exploration of outer planets and proposes a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system for future deep space exploration missions. The mission design problem with respect to the NTP system is presented where it is proposed that NTP-powered missions need to integrate the requirements and constraints of mission objective, spacecraft design, NTP system design, and launch vehicle limits into a self-consistent model. The paper presents a conceptual NTP-powered rendezvous mission to Neptune that uses a single high-performance–class commercial launch vehicle to deliver over 2 mT of useful payload in a direct transfer trajectory with total trip time being under 16 years.