Nuclear-powered rockets, a concept that was tested and last used in the 1970s, are making a return as global superpowers are making a race to Mars, and looking for ways to overtake others attempting to reach the red planet.
US space agency NASA last year signed an $18.8 million deal with BWXT Nuclear Energy Inc to design a reactor and fuel to use in a nuclear-thermal propulsion engine for deep-space travel.
While conventional rockets burn fuel to create thrust, atomic-powered engines use a reactor to heat fuel which expands through a nozzle and propels the craft. Rockets using atomic-powered engines would double the fuel efficiency of any voyage to Mars as well as reduce the travel time to under 4 months, which is less than half the time the last unmanned voyage to Mars in 2011 took. Read More…
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