Skip to Main Content
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Space Studies Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
Board Members
Board Meetings
Discipline Committees
Decadal Surveys
Current Projects
Completed Projects
Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships

Contact Us

Space Studies Board
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC
Phone: (202) 334-3477
Fax: (202) 334-3701

Bookmark and Share 

  Follow us on Twitter 

Priorities in Space Science Enabled by Nuclear Power and Propulsion

Project Scope

The Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
jointly organized a study to advise NASA regarding the scientific goals and
missions that may be enabled uniquely by nuclear power and propulsion

The study identified space science objectives and possible
missions that could be enabled in the time frame beyond 2015 by development of
advanced spacecraft nuclear power and propulsion systems, as well as nuclear
power systems for landers. As a starting point, this phase of the study used
the recent NRC decadal science strategy reports in astronomy and
astrophysics, solar system exploration, and solar and space physics, and the
study will consider potential directions for each field going beyond the time
span of the current strategies. The future scientific goals were not
prioritized but were used as reference initiatives for consideration of
where the availability of space nuclear systems should make a major impact. The
study considered the potential for scientific advancement by using
electrical power regimes that can only be facilitated by the use of nuclear
power systems and the characteristics of nuclear systems best suited to execute
scientific goals in the future. The study also considered scientific aspects
of performance trade-offs (e.g. trip time vs. thrust levels) that might
influence mission requirements.

This study was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Click here to read the report.

Committee Membership:

Mr. William A. Anders - (Co-Chair)
General Dynamics Corporation [Retired]
MG William W. Hoover
Independent Consultant
Dr. Ellen R. Stofan - (Co-Chair)
Proxemy Research
Dr. Steven D. Howe
Universities Space Research Association
Dr. Reta F. Beebe
New Mexico State University
Dr. William J. Madia
Battelle Memorial Institute
Dr. William D. Cochran
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. William B. McKinnon
Washington University
Dr. Robert Farquhar
Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory

Dr. Nathan A. Schwadron
Southwest Research Institute
Dr. Sergio B. Guarro
The Aerospace Corporation


David Smith, Study Director
Space Studies Board