LYNCHBURG, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:BWXT) announced today that its BWXT Nuclear Energy, Inc. subsidiary has been awarded an $18.8 million contract from NASA to initiate conceptual designs for a nuclear thermal propulsion reactor in support of a possible future manned mission to Mars.
The scope of the contract includes initial reactor conceptual design, initial fuel and core fabrication development, licensing support for initial ground testing, and engine test program development. Work under the contract is expected to continue through 2019, subject to annual Congressional appropriations and options exercised at customer discretion.
The reactor would be part of a nuclear thermal propulsion rocket engine designed to propel a spacecraft from Earth orbit to Mars and back. BWXT’s reactor design is based on low enriched uranium fuel. Nuclear thermal power for spaceflight has a number of advantages over chemical-based designs, primarily providing higher efficiency and greater power density resulting in lower propulsion system weight. This would contribute to shorter travel times and lower exposure to cosmic radiation for astronauts.
“BWXT is extremely pleased to be working with NASA on this exciting nuclear space program in support of the Mars mission,” said Rex D. Geveden, BWXT’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are uniquely qualified to design, develop and manufacture the reactor and fuel for a nuclear-powered spacecraft. This is an opportune time to pivot our capabilities into the space market where we see long-term growth opportunities in nuclear propulsion and nuclear surface power.”
Work on the program will begin immediately. Approximately 15 BWXT employees in Lynchburg, Va., will contribute to this effort.
Forward Looking Statements
BWXT cautions that this release contains forward-looking statements, including statements relating to the performance, scope and timing of the NASA nuclear thermal propulsion rocket contract. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties, including, among other things, modification or termination of the contract, delays or other difficulties in the commencement or execution of any options, the expected duration of the project and the availability of U.S. Government appropriations. If one or more of these or other risks materialize, actual results may vary materially from those expressed. For a more complete discussion of these and other risk factors, please see BWXT’s annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2016 and subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. BWXT cautions not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this release, and undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, except to the extent required by applicable law.
Headquartered in Lynchburg, Va., BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:BWXT) is a leading supplier of nuclear components and fuel to the U.S. government; provides technical and management services to support the U.S. government in the operation of complex facilities and environmental remediation activities; and supplies precision manufactured components, services and fuel for the commercial nuclear power industry. With approximately 6,000 employees, BWXT has nine major operating sites in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, BWXT joint ventures provide management and operations at more than a dozen U.S. Department of Energy and two NASA facilities. Follow us on Twitter @BWXTech and learn more at www.bwxt.com.