Washington (AFP) – NASA will associate with a Pentagon analysis company to develop a nuclear-powered rocket engine to ship astronauts to Mars, each businesses mentioned Tuesday.
NASA Administrator Invoice Nelson mentioned the US house company will collaborate with the Protection Superior Analysis Tasks Company (DARPA) to “develop and take a look at superior nuclear thermal propulsion expertise starting in 2027.”
“With the assistance of this new expertise, astronauts may journey to and from deep house sooner than ever earlier than, an vital functionality to organize for human missions to Mars,” he mentioned in an announcement.
DARPA is the analysis and growth arm of the Pentagon and has performed a job in most of the improvements of the twentieth century, such because the web.
In accordance with NASA, nuclear thermal rockets will be three or extra occasions extra environment friendly than standard chemical propulsion and would scale back journey time, important for an eventual mission to Mars.
In a nuclear warmth engine, a fission reactor is used to generate extraordinarily excessive temperatures.
Warmth from the reactor is transferred to liquid propellant which is then transformed to a gasoline, which expands via a nozzle and gives thrust.
“DARPA and NASA have a protracted historical past of fruitful collaboration,” mentioned DARPA Director Stefanie Tompkins, citing the Saturn V rocket that carried the primary astronauts to the Moon.
“The nuclear thermal rocket program might be important to extra effectively and shortly transport materials to the Moon and finally individuals to Mars,” Tompkins mentioned.
NASA carried out its final assessments of nuclear thermal rocket engines greater than 50 years in the past, however deserted this system because of funds cuts and Chilly Conflict tensions.
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