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NASA, Energy Department Boost Cooperation In Space Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy and NASA signed on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding to expand their cooperation in civil energy-related activities in space.  

NASA and DOE are continuing their partnership that started over 50 years ago and will jointly pursue collaboration in space activities that could include applied energy and energy-related research and development, space science, earth science, space technology, and computing and modeling, according to the new memorandum of understanding. The parties will also continue to identify opportunities in space nuclear power and propulsion.

The Energy Department and NASA decided to establish three working groups that focus on lunar surface infrastructure, space nuclear power and propulsion, and science and innovation, including space safety and planetary defense.

One of the working groups will have to report on the feasibility of “Developing a multibillion-dollar plan to research, develop, test, and evaluate nuclear propulsion systems for Mars missions transporting astronauts.” 

“From achieving a better understanding of the Moon, to providing the nuclear fuels to propel Voyager 1 and 2 into space, DOE and NASA have been strong collaborators in our Nation’s space mission for decades,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said in a statement.

“This new MOU will continue our esteemed work together as this Administration strives to reach the next generation of space innovations and exploration,” Secretary Brouillette added.

“The DOE’s energy, science, and technology expertise remains crucial to the success of NASA missions. Together, we will mature and ready systems for exploring more of the Moon and venturing humans farther into space, all for humanity’s benefit on Earth,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.   

Earlier this year, a study of a NASA team showed that the Moon may contain more metals than previously thought, which could advance ambitions for moon metal mining as early as the middle of this decade.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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