LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the White House Director of the Office of Science and Technology Kelvin Droegemeier were in Lynchburg today.
They toured BWX Technologies to learn how the company’s work developing propulsion systems can help the United States put humans on Mars.
BWX is developing nuclear propulsion technology. The company hopes NASA will come to them when it’s time to send astronauts to Mars.
As Bridenstine explained, nuclear propulsion can shorten the time it would take to get to Mars by several months.
It would also allow astronauts to return to Earth without having to wait 26 months for Earth and Mars to be on the same side of the sun.
According to BWX’s CEO Rex Geveden, his company is uniquely qualified to overcome that obstacle for NASA.
“In fact, we’re the only commercial entity that is licensed to handle special nuclear materials, and so when the time comes for a nuclear surface power system for a propulsion system for Mars, we’re the most likely company to manufacture that.”
NASA’s administrator says signs of life on Mars are why it’s so important to send humans there to explore.
He says humans can cover more ground in a shorter period of time than rovers can, and humans are able to adapt and conduct certain experiments better than a robot.
Geveden says the propulsion technology needed to get to Mars is only a few years away.