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Home News DARPA awards $14 million to develop nuclear rocket engine for U.S. military

DARPA awards $14 million to develop nuclear rocket engine for U.S. military

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Gryphon Technologies $14 million to develop a nuclear thermal propulsion system for the U.S. military. Part of DARPA’s Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program, the High-Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU) Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) system will be used to enable the military to carry out missions in cislunar space, meaning the area between the Earth and the orbit of the moon.

“A successfully demonstrated NTP system will provide a leap ahead in space-propulsion capability, allowing agile and rapid transit over vast distances as compared to present propulsion approaches,” Tabitha Dodson, Gryphon’s chief engineer on the support team and a national expert in NTP systems, said in a statement.

The militarization of space, this time largely involving the United States and China, has been in the news in recent years in a way that it hasn’t since the decades-old Space Race between the U.S. and the Soviets. The idea of using Nuclear Thermal Propulsion to power spacecraft is that a nuclear reactor utilized to heat a propellant like hydrogen to extreme temperatures, prior to expelling it via a nozzle in order to create thrust, could be significantly more efficient than current chemical rockets. It would also have a thrust-to-weight ratio that is reportedly 10,000 times greater than electric propulsion.

The concept of using nuclear reactors in space is not new, but this effort from DARPA shows just how seriously it is now being taken here in 2020.

“Gryphon is committed to providing high-end technical solutions to our nation’s most critical national security challenges,” said P.J. Braden, CEO of Gryphon, in a statement. “We are proud to support DRACO and the development and demonstration of NTP, a significant technological advancement in efforts to achieve cislunar space awareness.”

No timeline has been given for when we should expect a nuclear reactor to power next-gen spacecraft. One thing’s for sure, though: Between this, the rise of Space Force, NASA commissioning private companies to retrieve space resources, and the continued work of companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, space exploration is about as fast-moving and full of promise as it’s been in many years.

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How to start, run and grow your business online with Wix

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1More ColorBuds True Wireless Headphones review

Up for review today are a pair of true wireless earbuds from 1more. Priced $100 and offered in four color options, the ColorBuds promise 22 hours of music through their internal battery and the charging case. How do they sound? Are they comfortable? Read on to learn more.DesignThe ColorBuds from 1More are the most compact true wireless buds the brand has ever created. Upon opening the package I was shocked by how small and lightweight the buds and case are this time around. I was also pleasantly surprised to see 1More went with USB-C for charging over micro USB, one of the complaints I had in my review of the 1More Stylish True Wireless Headphones.However, one thing I would have preferred 1More to retain from the Stylish True Wireless Headphones, is the matte finish on the case. Instead, the ColorBuds feature a shiny finish on the case that I fear will accumulate scratches over time, and has already proved to be a magnet for lint and dust. Plus, I just prefer the look of the matte black finish.ComfortI must admit, I was concerned about the fit and comfort. I have smaller than average ear canals and finding the right fit can be a bit challenging sometimes. One thing that always helps is when the buds include ear wings to prevent the buds from falling out, ensuring a tight and secure fit. All it took was inserting the ColorBuds for the first time to realize this concern was completely unfounded.Whether using the medium-sized ear tips or the small, I found the buds stayed in my ears securely and comfortably. I was able to wear them for a couple of hours at a time without them falling out or causing any ear fatigue.User ExperienceIn my review of the 1More Stylish True Wireless Headphones, I was rather harsh on them about the update process. I’m happy to report this has been greatly improved with the ColorBuds. The update process was streamlined and simplified this time around, only requiring you to open the case with the buds inside to upgrade the firmware.Touch controls have never been my favorite on headphones. They can be a bit hit or miss, and getting accustomed to the timing for the tapping can take a little getting used to. 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There are some improvements I’d love to see implemented though, such as an equalizer and the option to customize the shortcuts for each individual bud.For example, I would have loved to assign play/pause to the right bud while assigning voice control to the left bud.Finally, I’d appreciate it if 1More removed the notification shown by its app, because as far as I can tell, it is completely non-functioning. Trying to tap on any of the icons while listening to music does absolutely nothing–and even if it did–every music app already includes controls in the notification tray, making it a useless waste of space.Sound QualityThe 1More ColorBuds use the Qualcomm aptX codec for a stable connection and high-quality sound when streaming Bluetooth audio.As far as the actual characteristics of the audio quality, I found the ColorBuds to have a more limited soundstage than I prefer. However, the bass was tight and punchy, which is great for most pop and rap songs. The highs, on the other hand, were a bit reserved, while still allowing for most of the details from tracks to come through.Overall, the ColorBuds don’t sound overly bright, but they aren’t too bass-heavy either–landing somewhere in the middle–offering a mostly flat and balanced sound signature.Battery Life1More rates the ColorBuds for up to 6 hours on a single charge, and after a few weeks of usage, I can vouch for that. What’s even better is the buds only require a 15-minute charge for an additional two hours of battery life. This should ensure that you’ll never have to go too long without your tunes while on the go.Final Thoughts1More has produced its most compact pair of truly wireless headphones with the ColorBuds. 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