As part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, the US space agency is funding a program to develop a nuclear-powered rocket.
If successful, this project could cover the distance between Earth and Mars in a month and a half, potentially revolutionizing space exploration!
trip in March
One of the difficulties in reaching Mars is the length of the journey. It can take several months at best, so more than a year for a round trip. However, the solution to acceleration could perhaps be nuclear power.
This is the goal of one of the concepts selected for initial development by the US Space Agency (NASA) as part of its innovation program to advance its space missions. Even if it cannot be kept in the end, the project is certainly one of the most spectacular of this year’s harvest.
With conventional chemical propulsion, it would take about nine months (at best) to send a crew to Mars. To go much faster, the concept in question combines two nuclear propulsion technologies.
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The first is a thermal propulsion mode based on gas heated by nuclear fission until it becomes ionized gas. The second is electric. Here, an electromagnetic field accelerates the thrust considerably. The two combined forces could thus increase the speed of any spacecraft.
In theory, this bimodal propulsion, if perfected, could make it possible to reach the Red Planet in just 45 days, something previously unthinkable.
According to University of Florida professor Ryan Gosse, who is responsible for the concept, this bimodal solution could enable rapid transfer for any manned mission, revolutionizing space exploration to Mars and beyond.