Kent-based Blue Origin has won a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the first phase of a program to test nuclear rocket propulsion in space by 2025.

The Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program aims to demonstrate a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system offering spacecraft greater agility in cislunar space between the Earth and moon, according to a DARPA announcement of the contracts.

Other contractors are General Atomics and Lockheed Martin.

“The performer teams have demonstrated capabilities to develop and deploy advanced reactor, propulsion, and spacecraft systems,” U.S. Air Force Maj. Nathan Greiner, program manager for DRACO, said in the announcement. “The NTP technology we seek to develop and demonstrate under the DRACO program aims to be foundational to future operations in space.”

Phase 1 of the program will last 18 months and…

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