Trump Seeks Updated Review Process for Commercial Spacecraft Carrying Nuclear Payloads

Jeff Brody

The Trump administration released a memo to update the review process for launching commercial spacecraft carrying nuclear power systems, Space News reported Thursday. President Trump issued the memo on Tuesday with the intent of establishing a three-tier system for approving the delivery of payloads such as fission reactors, which may result in hazards such as radiation exposure if an accident occurs.

“Our primary objective here is to ensure that rigorous and effective nuclear safety analysis and reviews are conducted prior to the launch of any space nuclear system,” said Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, at a National Space Council meeting in Chantilly, Va.

The first two tiers will cover spacecraft to undergo reviews by sponsoring agencies and potentially NASA’s future Nuclear Safety Review Board. Spacecraft under the third tier will require presidential authorization through OSTP or the National Security Council.

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