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PostHeaderIcon Will Thermal Nuclear Propulsion be the Way to Mars and Beyond?

From the 1950s all the way until the early 1970s, NASA was on a mission to send Mankind to Mars and, as such, was considering different forms of propulsion. The most promising was a nuclear-powered rocket. Of course, the plans to go to Mars were shelved around the same time of the last Apollo mission, and Man hasn’t been out past the international space station (to the best of our unclassified knowledge) since. Sure, we’ve sent a number of unmanned probes, but outside of that, we’ve stuck pretty close to home. But, technology has improved drastically over the years, and the phone in your hand is now more powerful than the computers that helped Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon while Michael Collins piloted the command module and observed from lunar orbit on July 20, 1969. Now we’ve got guys like Elon Musk pressing the issue and wanting to colonize Mars in the near future, so it’s only fitting that NASA step its game up and prepare for a journey to the red rock.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that NASA is considering thermal nuclear propulsion once again. While this may sound inherently dangerous, it’s really not that bad. This type of propulsion works by taking a liquid fuel like hydrogen and heating it inside a nuclear reactor. The fuel is then forced out of rocket nozzles at high speed, ultimately creating thrust. It was previously found that this kind of propulsion is nearly twice as efficient as the typical rocket that relies on a chemical reaction for thrust. This would allow the nuclear craft to carry less fuel (which means less weight) and a give a quicker trip to our destination, wherever it may be. Estimates place the travel time from earth to Mars at about four months, which is nearly 70 percent of the time it would take with a conventional rocket. It’s not quite Warp Drive, but it’s a step in the right direction, right Scotty?

With that all in mind, NASA has contracted a company known as BWXT Nuclear Energy to again explore the potential of this type of propulsion. Keep reading to learn a little more about it.

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1969 Chevrolet C-10 Custom 1969 Chevy C-10 Custom Built Short Bed, REAL PATINA, LS SWAP Pickup Truck
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