NASA and Pentagon to develop nuclear-powered rocket to go to Mars

The US space agency (NASA) and the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) announced this Tuesday a partnership to develop a nuclear-powered rocket, intended to send humans to Mars.

The administrator of the space agency, Bill Nelson, referred that this partnership with the North American military research agency – Darpa – intends to “develop and test advanced nuclear thermal propulsion technology as early as 2027”.

“With the help of this technology, astronauts will be able to travel to and from deep space faster than ever before,” a capability needed to conduct manned missions to Mars, he said, quoted in a statement.

Darpa, the science arm of the US Army, is at the root of many 20th century innovations, including the Internet.

According to NASA, a nuclear-powered thermal rocket can be three to four times more efficient than conventional ones and reduce travel time, an essential part of getting to the ‘red planet’.

In a thermal nuclear rocket, a nuclear fusion reactor produces very high temperatures.

That heat is transferred to a liquid fuel, turned into a gas and – as in a conventional rocket – is expelled through a nozzle to provide thrust.

“DARPA and NASA have a long history of successful collaborations,” said military research agency director Stefanie Tompkins, citing the Saturn V rocket that sent the Apollo missions to the moon as an example.

The development of this new type of launcher “It will be crucial to more quickly and efficiently transport material to the Moon and subsequently people to Mars,” he added.

NASA conducted tests of a nuclear rocket more than 50 years ago, but the project was halted due to budget cuts and Cold War tensions.

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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