UNITED STATES: Nuclear-powered rockets that may transport astronauts to Mars in an instant have been proposed for testing by NASA.
The organization said on Tuesday that it has teamed up with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) of the US government to showcase a nuclear thermal rocket engine in space as early as 2027.
The goal of the project is to create an innovative propulsion system for space travel that is very different from the chemical systems that have been used since the commencement of the modern era of rocketry approximately a century ago.
According to the agency, enhanced science payload capacity and higher instrument and communication power would both be advantages.
As part of its Moon to Mars mission, NASA intends to set foot on the red planet sometime in the 2030s. Last year, the agency successfully tested its modern Artemis spacecraft as a launchpad back to the moon and onto Mars.
According to Nasa, it would take almost seven months to go 300 miles to Mars using present technology. Nuclear technology has not yet been quantified by engineers, but according to NASA administrator Bill Nelson, it will enable humans and spacecraft to travel in deep space at record speeds.
According to the IAEA, nuclear electric propulsion systems have a low thrust but utilise propellants far more effectively than chemical rockets.
A reactor produces the electricity that positively charges xenon or krypton-based gas propellants, forcing the ions via a thruster to propel the spaceship forward.
Nuclear electric propulsion technologies can push a Mars mission with a small fraction of the propellant used by high-thrust systems while accelerating spacecraft for extended periods of time.
“The arrangement is an expansion of the organizations’ already-existing partnership,” according to a statement from Dr. Stefanie Tompkins, director of Darpa.
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