The path to the Moon, Mars, and beyond requires technologies to get us where we need to go quickly, safely and efficiently. Space travel includes launch and in-space propulsion systems, cryogenic fluid management, and thermal management, as well as navigation and landing systems to get our supplies, equipment, and robotic or human explorers to diverse surface destinations.
NASA’s Space Launch System is 17 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty and produced 15% more thrust than the Saturn V at liftoff.
The last nuclear thermal rocket engine tests conducted by the United States occurred more than 50 years ago. NASA and DARPA are partnering on the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations, or DRACO, program and together, we’ll develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear thermal propulsion technology as soon as 2027.
Mission and Impact
NASA seeks to improve our ability to access and travel through space; land more mass in more locations throughout the solar system; live and work in deep space and on planetary bodies; build next generation air vehicles, and transform the ability to observe the universe and answer profound questions in earth and space sciences.
How Do Spacecraft Slow Down? We Asked a NASA Technologist
How do spacecraft slow down? Rigid heat shields and retropropulsion have been the favorites of engineers for years. Now NASA is testing a new inflatable heat shield technology that could allow us to carry even larger payloads to worlds with atmospheres.