The European Space Agency Is Funding Space Travel’s Worst Acronym

The European Space Agency Is Funding Space Travel’s Worst Acronym

Right now, there is a lot of fantastic research being done in the field of space flight. NASA is working on new engines that might propel us to Mars, commercial rocket companies are investigating methods to make space travel more affordable, and the European Space Agency has just opened a round of financing to examine the possibilities of nuclear-powered spacecraft.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has given funds to seven projects throughout Europe that are studying the next-generation of rocket engines as part of the Future Launchers Preparatory Program. As part of the funding, the ESA is supporting the development of a Czech Republic-based team that is behind the RocketRoll initiative.

The software is being developed at the Czech Technical University in Prague and the University of Stuttgart’s Institute of Space Systems. Scientists are investigating the feasibility of a new sort of nuclear-based electric propulsion as part of the project.

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The European Space Agency Is Funding Space Travel’s Worst Acronym

Currently, spacecraft utilize a chemical propellant such as hydrogen or rubber to give the energy they need to fly. Some work using power generated by solar cells added to the vehicle once in the vacuum of space. However, according to the RocketRoll program, such power units are “approaching their physical limits.”

“Nuclear propulsion can be more efficient than the most efficient chemical propulsion or overcome solar-limited electric propulsion, enabling exploration of places that no other technology can reach,” said Dr Jan Frbort, principal investigator of nuclear technology at Czech Technical University, in a statement.

“This is a big challenge for future space missions beyond our Solar System.”

But, before the team could begin working on the looming topic of space flight, it needed to decide on a name for the program. After all, it had to be a catchy acronym, so the team landed on RocketRoll.

I hear you saying, “That’s a pretty long acronym,” but wait until you learn what it truly stands for.

The project’s official title, according to, is the Preliminary European Reckon on Nuclear Electric Propulsion for Space Applications. To make this into a memorable moniker, the researchers took a random selection of letters from each phrase and shoehorned them into the title.

So, on the research project’s own website, they list the full name as “pReliminary eurOpean reCKon on nuclEar elecTric pROpuLsion for space appLications” to try and point out how it came up with the name. And I’ve looked; the acronym doesn’t even work properly if you translate it into Czech or French.

Aside from the odd titles, it sounds like a promising effort – even if it should be called PERNEPSA instead. The team’s next step will be to identify the experience and technology available in Europe to construct a nuclear-based propulsion system. They will also create a concept design for a ship capable of traveling across space.