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Trump Issues Directive for Development of Nuclear Space Propulsion

Dec. 17, 2020 (EIRNS)—Just as Chang’e-5 returns to Earth, President Donald Trump issued the Space Policy Directive # 6 (“Memorandum on the National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion”) on Dec. 16, calling for the development of space nuclear power, considering it as “vital to maintaining and advancing United States dominance and strategic leadership in space.” The measure creates the notion of Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion (SNPP). It also highlights the importance of the technology in other fields and calls for the various departments of government to support the initiative and try to find ways of utilizing the technology for general commercial benefit.

The issue was also mentioned at the meeting of the National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Pence on Dec. 16, but there was no coverage of the discussion in the statement that was released after the meeting. The directive also states that the issue had been mentioned in August 2019 in a National Security Memorandum. The Directive also calls for the establishment of a fission capability on the Moon by the middle or end of the 2020s that is scalable to 40kWe or more in order to “support sustained lunar presence and exploration of Mars.”

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