General Atomics Electromagnetics - Space Nuclear

Space Nuclear

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) is expanding our space systems expertise by leveraging our 60+ year history of nuclear innovation to demonstrate safe, robust, and scalable space-nuclear energy systems and deliver them on orbit, on time.

Whether its designing safer, more efficient nuclear reactors for use on land, pushing the limits to where we can go in space with nuclear thermal propulsion, or developing future nuclear power for use on the surface of the moon, Mars, and beyond, our goal is the same—Innovation Made Real.

To learn more about our Nuclear Technologies and Materials, please visit here.

Nuclear Thermal Propulsion

Since the 1950's, GA-EMS has been unlocking the possibilities of Space Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP). GA-EMS' NTP reactor concept leverages advancements in modern nuclear materials and manufacturing methods with valuable experience from the company's involvement on NASA Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Project Rover in the 1960s; one of the first programs to demonstrate the feasibility of space-based NTP. GA fabricated approximately 6 metric tons of the nuclear fuel kernels for the project. In 1965, the company was also directly involved in nuclear fuel testing and characterization for the SNAP-10A reactor, the only U.S. nuclear power reactor launched into space.

Now, GA-EMS' NTP design proposes new features that address issues observed in historical designs, such as fuel element corrosion, and achieves a compact core using High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) instead of High-Enriched Uranium (HEU). GA-EMS' advancements in state-of-the-art nuclear fuel and high temperature ceramic matrix composite materials are key components to the NTP design to create a highly efficient and exceptionally safe propulsion system. Combined with exceptional in-house capabilities to fabricate these components and others, GA-EMS is enabling the future of space exploration.