WASHINGTON – President Trump Tuesday signed a presidential memorandum outlining new procedures to launch nuclear power systems into outer space.
Trump directed the Department of Transportation to issue public guidelines within a year for commercial companies seeking a license to launch spacecraft with nuclear systems.
The memorandum also gives NASA 180 days to create an Interagency Nuclear Safety Review Board to ensure the safety of launching radioisotope power systems, fission reactors used for power and propulsion and more.
“The United States shall develop and use space nuclear systems when such systems safely enable or enhance space exploration or operational capabilities,” Trump says in the memo issued Tuesday.
The federal government and private companies have been eyeing nuclear powered space exploration and nuclear reactors to fuel missions to the moon, Mars and beyond.
Nuclear propulsion could cut the nine month trip to Mars in half, the Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday, after the sixth meeting of the National Space Council. Vice President Pence attended the Virginia meeting and touted accomplishments of Trump’s renewed focus on space exploration.
“Our moon-to-Mars mission is on track, and America is leading in human space exploration again,” Pence said.
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