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NASA Chooses Lockheed Martin To Build Nuclear Mars Rocket

The spacecraft will use a reactor from BWX Technologies to travel to the red planet.

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nasa chooses lockheed martin to build nuclear mars rocket
Lockheed Martin

NASA and DARPA have chosen Lockheed Martin to build a spacecraft featuring a nuclear rocket engine. The project is known as the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO), and should be ready for trials by 2027, in the hope that it will eventually be used for missions to Mars.

The rocket will use Nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP), which has several advantages over conventional chemical-powered engines. Nuclear power is up to five times more efficient than rocket fuel, which means that future spacecraft will be able to travel significantly further with a larger payload.

“These more powerful and efficient nuclear thermal propulsion systems can provide faster transit times between destinations,” explained Kirk Shireman, VP of Lunar Exploration Campaigns for Lockheed Martin. “Reducing transit time is vital for human missions to Mars to limit a crew’s exposure to radiation”.

lockheed martin mars rocket

The NTP system will use a nuclear reactor to rapidly heat hydrogen propellant to very high temperatures. The gas is then funneled through the engine’s nozzle, creating thrust. “This nuclear thermal propulsion system is designed to be extremely safe and reliable, using High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU) fuel to rapidly heat a super-cold gas,” explained reactor developers BWX Technologies. “As the gas is heated, it expands quickly and creates thrust to move the spacecraft more efficiently than typical chemical combustion engines”.

Also Read: Take A Balloon Journey To Space, Complete With Fine Dining!

To help alleviate concerns about radioactive leaks, NASA and DARPA will use a conventional rocket to take the new spacecraft out of Earth’s orbit before powering up the reactor after the ship has reached a safe distance.

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Initial Trials Of Dubai’s Driverless Evocargo Trucks Completed

Testing was announced on July 17, and the completion is a major milestone towards upgrading the region’s logistics infrastructure.

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initial trials of dubai's driverless evocargo trucks completed
Dubai Media Office

A Dubai-based company has completed the initial trials for the UAE’s first driverless trucks. The groundbreaking achievement by Evocargo, partnering with Dubai South, took place at Dubai South Logistics District, and marked a significant step towards incorporating autonomous technologies into the region’s wider logistics infrastructure.

Announced on Wednesday, July 17th, the trials featured the Evocargo N1 unmanned electric truck navigating a predetermined route within a controlled setting. The test involved interactions with common road obstacles such as cars, trucks, and pedestrians, aiming to evaluate the vehicle’s hardware and software reliability, accident prevention systems, and overall readiness for public road use.

Officials were keen to highlight that this accomplishment aligns with the UAE’s ambitious strategy to position itself as a global leader in innovation and technology adoption. The country aims to have 25% of all transportation in Dubai autonomous by 2030, underscoring its commitment to revolutionizing the logistics sector using advanced technologies.

Mohsen Ahmad, CEO of the Logistics District at Dubai South, emphasized the importance of the collaboration with Evocargo in enhancing the region’s logistics capabilities. He noted that autonomous vehicles are set to increase efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and establish a sustainable logistics infrastructure that will benefit both Dubai and the wider UAE.

Also Read: Riyadh Developers Reveal New 45,000-Seat Murabba Stadium

Ahmed Al-Ansi, CEO of Evocargo Autonomous Logistic Services, also expressed optimism that the trials will draw new customers and investments across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The partnership aims to lead in innovative tech solutions, further establishing the UAE as a pioneer in autonomous transportation.

The successful completion of the trials marks a crucial step towards realizing the UAE’s vision for a technologically advanced and sustainable future in which autonomous vehicles are expected to play a pivotal role in global logistics.

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