STATE OF PLAY

Emerging In-Space Propulsion Technologies

Change is coming to in-space propulsion. We investigate key technologies and developments for nuclear, electric, chemical and solar propulsion.

Spacecraft propelled by nuclear fission or fusion are now being researched as a faster means of traveling the solar system. Credit: NASA

What is Nuclear Propulsion?

Illustration of a Mars transit habitat and nuclear propulsion system that could one day take astronauts to Mars. Credit: NASA/Advanced Concepts Laboratory

Electric Propulsion

Artist’s concept of an air-scooping electric propulsion satellite. Credit: ESA

Solar Propulsion

Artist’s concept of a Solar Sail. Credit: NANOAVIONICS/NASA

Future Outlook

We operate the only federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) committed exclusively to the space enterprise.