Trump orders DoD to explore use of nuclear power for space

WASHINGTON — In the waning days of his administration, U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order aimed at pushing the Department of Defense toward quickly developing and producing small nuclear reactors for military use — and to see if they could be used by military space vehicles.

Specific to space, the order calls for the defense secretary, in consultation with the secretaries of state, commerce and energy as well as the NASA administrator, to “determine whether advanced nuclear reactors can be made to benefit Department of Defense future space power needs” and to “pilot a transportable micro-reactor prototype.”

Brian Weeden, director of program planning at the Secure World Foundation, said that language seeks to leverage a previous executive order that called for NASA to look into nuclear propulsion for nonmilitary means. While the idea of nuclear propulsion in space may seem concerning to some, “we can’t do long-duration human missions to the Moon, Mars or robotic missions beyond Mars without it,” he said.

defensenews Trump orders DoD to explore use of nuclear power for space