They are that’s why scientists are looking at ways to reduce trip time. Seattle based company ultra safe nuclear technologies, usnc tech has proposed a solution. A nuclear thermal propulsion ntp engine that could get humans from earth to mars in just three months. Currently, the shortest possible trip for an unmanned spacecraft is seven months, but a crude mission is expected to take at least not. The idea of nuclear rocket engines dates back to the 1940s, but the technology has only recently been revisited as a solution for deep space exploration. Michael eads, director of engineering at usnc tech, says that nuclear powered rockets would be more powerful and twice as efficient as the chemical engines used today, meaning they could travel further and faster, while nuclear technology will expand, humanity’s reach beyond low earth orbit and into deep space Heat read more as well as enabling human space travel. It could open up space for galactic business opportunities. He says most rockets today are powered by chemical engines. These could get you to mars, but it would take a long time at least three years for a round trip, says jeff sheehy chief engineer of nasa’s space technology mission directorate nasa wants to get there faster to minimize the cruise time in outer space. He says this would reduce their exposure to space radiation, which can cause health problems, including radiation, sickness, increased lifetime risk of cancer, central nervous system effects and degenerative. It would also decrease the overall risk of the mission, the longer you’re out there, the more time there is for stuff to go wrong here, that’s, why the space agency is looking to develop nuclear powered rockets.

An ntp system uses a nuclear reactor to generate heat from a year that thermal energy heats a liquid propellant, usually liquid hydrogen, which expands into a gas and is shot out. The back end producing thrust ntp rockets produce twice the thrust per unit of propellant than a chemical system, which is like saying it does double the miles per gallon, says she he this means the technology could get astronauts to mars and back in less than two an Illustration of a spacecraft with a nuclear enabled propulsion system, courtesy of, however, one of the main challenges for building an ntp engine is finding a uranium fuel that can withstand the blistering temperatures inside a nuclear therm. Usnc tech claims to have solved this problem by developing a fuel that can operate in temperatures up to 2700 degrees, kelvin 4 400 degrees fahrenheit, along with other companies developing similar technology. Usnc tech has presented its development to now, while she he would not comment on the specifics of any individual designs. He said the developments show that nuclear engines are feasible and could make a good choice for human export. Shorter missions would limit the crew’s exposure to space radiation, but there is still concern about the radiation emitted from the nuclear reactor inside the space. This would be mitigated through the rocket’s design. Aids explains the liquid propellants stored between the engine and the crew area block out radioactive particles acting as a tremendously good radiation shield. He sets a rendering of the usnc tech ntp systems in line at a rocket hangar.

The system is roughly 13 feet: 4 meters long. The distance between the crew and reactor also provides a buffer says she he and any ntp design would place the living quarters at the other end of the rocket to the react to protect people on the ground and tp spacecraft would not lift off directly from earth. She he adds instead, a regular chemical rocket would hoist it into orbit, and only then would it fire up its nuclear react once in orbit. It could do little harm. He says as blasts and thermal radiation cannot move through a vac. If disaster struck in the rockets reactor broke up, the pieces would not land on earth or any other planet for tens of thousands of years. By that time, the radioactive substance would have naturally decayed to the point where it wasn’t hazardous. Although usnc tech’s current goal for a one way, trip is five to nine months. Nuclear power technology has the potential to cut journeys from earth to mars. To just 90 days says these faster journey times could open up a wealth of opportunities. Usnc tech is hoping to develop its technology for government agencies like nasa and the department of defense and for the commercial space market. The company says its concept could help to power space tourism and rapid orbital logistics services such as transporting satellites or delivering spacecraft capable of repairing satellites out in space. She he agrees that nuclear powered rockets will be key to opening up the solar system, but cautions that it could be at least two decades before they have numerous demonstrations, and tests would need to be carried out before a crew is sent to mars in an ntp Rocket he’s nobody’s ever flown nuclear propulsion, yet he says i think it’s going to have to be flown a few times before somebody sells tickets.

an earlier version of this story: misidentified silicon carbide as one of the compounds contained in the rock.