Broadcast 4089 Dr. Ajay Kothari

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Guest:  Dr. Ajay Kothari; Topics:  Multiple topics including the NASA-DARPA DRACO program for small nuclear engines for Mars and elsewhere, thorium, molten salt reactors for power generation, Generation 4 reactors, nuclear fuels and much more.

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We welcomed back Dr. Ajay Kothari to discuss the recent DARPA-NASA  DRACO program he attended.  This is a joint venture effort to develop new small nuclear engines for use going to Mars and elsewhere in the solar system.  You can find out more about this program on the web as there are lots of links to aspects of the program.  This is a basic informational site you might find useful:  Before talking about specifics presented in this show, please check and visit the presentation Ajay posted on the blog for this show as he reported on DRACO plus the why and how of getting thorium molten salt reactors for power generation in the United States.  This presentation has been uploaded to this archive page for Ajay's program.  In addition, again I call your attention to the tags that I am repeating below as they do a good job of letting you know the discussion topics that came up on the program.  Note that much of what Ajay said was technical and detailed.  The tags just show the general topic discussed, not the details discussed during the interviews. 

Tags:  Dr. Ajay Kothari, Draco, NASA, DARPA, molten salt reactor, nuclear ideas and excitement, Agile cislunar development, Space Force, Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO program), testing nuclear engines for future Mars missions, Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA) program, NERVA cancelled January 1973, HALEU fuel, thorium, nuclear propulsion for space, ISP numbers, Ajay's comparison analysis, Small Nuclear Reactors (SMR), for energy Ajay's thorium molten salt reactor, thorium weapons capability, nuclear power in the U.S., new nuclear power reactors, Generation 4 reactors which do not blow up, U235, U232, Ajay's presentation for this program on The Space Show blog, rovers lasting the lunar night, Earth-Moon L1. 

Ajay spent the first part of our discussion on the NASA-DARPA DRACO project.  He went into detail, especially with fuels and the power of the proposed nuclear rocket engines. He spent considerable time telling us how they would work plus why this was an essential project.  In addition to the website I mentioned above, you can get all the technical information and details at; and  For those of you wanting more technical information, a simple internet search on the NASA-DARPA DRACO project will provide you with sufficient reading material for quite some time.

The other big topic that Ajay talked about was his push and the need for thorium molten salt reactors for our power generation.  He mentioned other countries and after the show, he posted a blog comment about China and these reactors.  Ajay spent time telling us how they work plus he talked about some of the challenges that would need to be worked out, including using thorium as a weapon.  Ajay's presentation paper on our blog goes into detail with photos and graphs on his suggested idea of a thorium based molten salt reactor.  I asked him how he intended to get advocate and market his idea.  For the most part, he said one on one.  Later he sent me an email stating that he had a top-level appointment with a government official coming up.  I will hold off on the details of the meeting until Ajay calls in with the details. 

Ajay talked about small nuclear rockets (SNR).  He went into specs and challenges in this discussion as he did with the other technology discussions in this program.  He received a lengthy call from Dr. Lurio regarding the nuclear rocket and its cancellation.  Charles brought up other related items during his call.

Speaking of the nuclear rocket, I will be spending Monday, Sept. 25 at the National Security Test Site north of Las Vegas in a Space Show tour of the site, H-Bomb testing areas, Artemis astronaut training sites in bomb created craters plus I hope to see the museum with the nuclear rocket that was cancelled.  My plan is to do a program about this trip with one or two guests from the test site.  Stay tuned for more information on this.

Please post your comments/questions on our program blog for this show.  You can contact Dr. Kothari through The Space Show or his presentation material.  He also gave out his address on air.

Show Files: 




Ajay returns to discuss the Indian Moon mission, their lunar program and more.

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12 Sep 2023 Dr. Ajay Kothari
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