Space & Astronomy
Firm invents nuclear thermal propulsion engine
By T.K. Randall
October 27, 2020 · 5 comments
Is this the future of spacecraft propulsion ? Image Credit: USNC-Tech
A new type of propulsion system is being developed that could significantly reduce the time it takes to reach Mars.
The brainchild of Seattle-based USNC-Tech (Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies), this new Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) engine could revolutionize space travel in the not-too-distant future.
According to the company, the new engine - which is still at the concept stage - is far more efficient than chemical rockets and could make it possible to reach Mars within as little as three months.
The new engine will run on fully ceramic microencapsulated (FCM) fuel which is itself based on high-assay low-enriched uranium derived from reprocessed civilian nuclear fuel which has been enriched to between 5 and 20 percent.
USNC-Tech maintains that the fuel is more rugged and can operate at higher temperatures than conventional nuclear fuels, leading to a safer reactor design and higher thrust.
It can also be manufactured using existing supply chains and manufacturing plants.
According to reports, NASA has been provided with the details of the new engine, however it remains to be seen whether it will fund further development of the technology.
Suffice to say, reducing the Mars travel time to a mere three months is certainly an exciting prospect.
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