BWX Technologies receives NASA contract for Mars mission

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About 15 employees at Lynchburg-based BWX Technologies are involved in the design of a nuclear reactor to support a possible manned mission to Mars.

NASA has awarded an $18.8 million contract to BWXT Nuclear Energy Inc., a company subsidiary. The contract includes initial reactor conceptual design, initial fuel and core fabrication development, licensing support for initial ground testing and engine-test program development.

The reactor would be part of a nuclear thermal propulsion rocket engine designed to propel a spacecraft from Earth orbit to Mars and back.

Work on the project, which began this summer, is expected to continue through 2019, subject to annual congressional appropriations and the exercise of contract options.

BWXT employs about 6,100 people globally, including more than 2,500 people in the Lynchburg area.

Virginia Business interviewed Rex Geveden, the new president and CEO of BWXT, in the August issue. He is a former associate administrator at NASA, essentially the agency’s chief operating officer.

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