BWXT show NASA representatives progress on program that supports future mission to Mars

BWXT, NASA started Nuclear Thermal Propulsion program a year ago

LYNCHBURG, Va. – In the past year, Lynchburg’s BWX Technologies and NASA have worked together on a Nuclear Thermal Propulsion program to help power America’s future missions to Mars.

“So this is a new market for us and the applications are entirely new,” said Rex Geveden, BWXT’s president and CEO.

On Tuesday officials from NASA traveled from the nation’s capital to the hill city to see the company’s progress.

“When you develop technology, what you do, you look for the people that really know how to develop it. This is a hard business, if you don’t get the best you’re probably not going to be successful. So we found the best here in Lynchburg,” Jim Reuter, NASA’s acting associate administrator of STMD, said.

BWXT employees demonstrated for NASA how they use advanced welding, solve fabricating challenges and fill fuel elements, using powder as practice.

“So we actually fill the syringe up with the powder. It flows through and as it's flowing through, this device taps it to pat the powder in,” said Russ Lake, a BWXT employee, "and then we move to the larger one, prove we can do that and then we’ll do the fuel element with uranium at Marshall.”

BWXT’S contract with the space technology organization runs until 2019, and it should take about that long to finish their end of the program.

“It enables us to attract a lot of young talent engineers and scientist to our workforce. And so it certainly builds our employment   base here and delivers those kinds of economic benefits to the Lynchburg area,” Geveden said.

About the Author: