NASA – New SPD-6
America’s strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion (SNPP) was outlined in an issued Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6) by President Trump on December 16, Wednesday. These are outlines are in wake of the issues faced by a spacecraft when power sources are inadequate, so it could be powered by space nuclear systems. This could be a great help in situations where regions are dark or need to go far away from Earth which will help spacecraft to carry a sufficient amount of chemical fuels.
Radioisotope power systems are included in space nuclear power systems along with nuclear reactors used for power, heating, or propulsion. US commitment to using SNPP safely, effectively, and responsibly will be powered by SPD-6 by laying the roadmap, establishing principles and high-level goals. White House’s continued leadership on the Artemis program is supported by NASA as per administrator- Jim Bridenstine.
Affordable, safe, and reliable nuclear systems could be developed by these SPD-6, proving to be a good help for the agency. One of the approaching priorities in foreseeable future for NASA is to demonstrate and mature a fission surface power system on the Moon. This could be expected soon as they have plans to demonstrate in the late 2020s.
Ease for Mars and Moon
This system could be easily tested on Moon as it could provide power for sustainable lunar surface operations, helping in future operations on Mars. These SPD-6 principles are for extended robotic exploration of the solar system or survivable surface systems by the development of advanced radioisotope power systems. However, NASA promises to not misuse the principles and abide by safety, sustainability, security, and development & use of SNPP systems.
NASA plans to enable robust human exploration beyond the moon with advance nuclear thermal and nuclear electric propulsion capabilities. NASA also signifies the nuclear propulsion is the only viable way now to send people to Red Planet as traditional techniques involve high propellant mass.