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Nuclear’s Future Role in Space

Wednesday, 7 September 2022
1400–1530 hrs ET USA

The growing worldwide desire for a long-term sustainable human presence on the moon, emerging DoD capability needs, and the desire to send humans to Mars in the next 10–20 years may usher in a new Space Age that includes nuclear reactor-powered propulsion and power. Join industry leaders and the greater ASCEND community as we discuss nuclear’s future role in space.

HomeASCENDxSeriesASCENDx Nuclear: Nuclear’s Future Role in Space

Nuclear power and propulsion technologies have been explored since the dawn of the Space Age. Originally fueled by the Space Race, activities were primarily in the United States and the USSR, the two big nuclear powers at that time. Since then, challenges in funding, safety, policy, and treaties have impeded the progression and maturity of most of these technologies for space applications.

Recent technology advancements, along with political/world changes relative to space, are creating new opportunities and needed capabilities. Join experts from the space industry and government entities to hear about the exciting possibilities that nuclear energy could enable for the new Space Age. Learn about the most recent advancements, programs, and activities in the space nuclear arena, specifically propulsion and power technologies.

EXAMINE the current environment for nuclear systems and applications in space.

DISCOVER ongoing efforts and activities for these promising technologies, as well as future developments and anticipated benefits.

EXPLORE safety, geopolitical, and economic implications.

IDENTIFY government and industry challenges.

Throughout the year, the ASCENDx Series accelerates momentum toward the fall ASCEND apex event. ASCENDxNuclear: Nuclear’s Future Role in Space showcases promising technologies and unique perspectives from various stakeholders invested in the advancement and enablement of nuclear for space.

Strategic insights from ASCENDxNuclear will continue as in-person discussions at 2022 ASCEND in Las Vegas, 24–26 October.


1400 – 1405 ET

Welcome and Introduction

Julie Van Kleeck
Space Domain Lead and ASCEND Executive Producer, AIAA

1405 – 1410 ET

Technology Development and System’s Readiness for Space Propulsion

Jonathan Cirtain
Chief Development Officer, BWXT

1410 – 1435 ET

Case-Study Highlights*

Bryan Smith
Director Facilities, Test and Manufacturing, NASA Glenn Research Center

*Key Trends in Nuclear Power and Propulsion

Lt. Col. Tommy Nix, USSF
JETSON Program Manager, Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate, Spacecraft Technology Division (AFRL/RVS)

*Joint Energy Technology Supplying On-Orbit Nuclear Power (JETSON) and the utilization of Nuclear Power within the U.S. Space Force

Adam Schilffarth
Director, Strategy, USNC

*Commercial-Oriented Procurement Models for Sustainable In-Space Nuclear Solutions

Kate Kelly
Director, Space and Emerging Programs, BWXT Advanced Technologies LLC

*Enabling Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion

Rob Chambers
Director, Business Development, Commercial Civil Space, Lockheed Martin

*Our Nuclear Future: Moon, Mars, and Beyond

1435 – 1525 ET

Discussion and Q&A

1525 – 1530 ET

Conclusion & Closing Remarks

Julie Van Kleeck
Space Domain Lead and ASCEND Executive Producer, AIAA

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