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Space & Astronomy

Nuclear-powered plasma rocket could get humans to Mars in two months

By T.K. Randall
May 9, 2024 · Comment icon 0 comments
Humans on Mars.
Could pulsed plasma propulsion be the key to reaching Mars ? Image Credit: NASA / Pat Rawlings
NASA is currently funding a revolutionary new propulsion system that could make it much easier to travel to Mars.
Getting humans to Mars is undoubtedly a challenging prospect.

With current technology, traversing the distance between the Earth and the Red Planet typically takes over nine months - that's a long time for anyone to spend traveling through the stellar void.

Particularly problematic would be the need to carry enough food and water to last the trip, as would the radiation exposure that the crew would suffer during that time.

But what if it were possible to reduce such a journey down to just two months ?

A revolutionary new propulsion system currently being developed through NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program could be the answer.
Developed by Arizona-based Howe Industries, the new system uses nuclear fission to produce bursts of plasma that can propel a spacecraft at much greater speeds through the cosmos.

Scientists believe that the new propulsion system has the potential to produce 22,481 pounds of force with a specific impulse of 5,000 seconds and would be incredibly fuel efficient.

Not only that, but it would be capable of propelling much heavier loads than is currently viable, meaning that the spacecraft could be properly shielded to protect its occupants from radiation.

While it might be a while before we see something like this become a reality, there should be nothing to stop such a propulsion system from being built - it is not some exotic science-fiction solution but a system that uses existing principles and technologies.

If it can be done, it could open up the whole solar system to manned exploration.

Source: Gizmodo | Comments (0)

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