- Sep 2015
- Brown Township, Ohio
The Air Force built a nuclear powered aircraft in the early sixties but proved unfeasible. A nuclear reactor is too damned heavy. Why do we need to go to Mars unless to find little green men?Eventually he will see the light once there is a government grant available and his methane propulsion system fails to deliver government requirement.
NASA Is Bringing Back Nuclear-Powered Rockets to Get to Mars
In the race to land humans on Mars, NASA is blowing the cobwebs off a technology it shelved in the 1970s — nuclear-powered rockets.
Last year, NASA partnered with BWXT Nuclear Energy Inc. for an $18.8 million contract to design a reactor and develop fuel for use in a nuclear-thermal propulsion engine for deep-space travel. While that small start is a long way from the the heady days of the Space Race of the Cold War, it marks the U.S. return to an idea that is also being pursued by Russia and China.
In NASA’s human exploration plan for Mars, developed in 2009, nuclear thermal propulsion is the preferred option. Two other technologies being considered are solar-electric and chemical propulsion. Nuclear thermal rockets were first researched and tested by NASA between 1955 and 1972, before the program was canceled by Congress over cost concerns. NASA has revisited nuclear thermal propulsion a few times over the years, but it didn’t go beyond feasibility studies.
“Significant advances in material research and technology development have allowed for new materials to be considered for the critical components of the reactor,” said BWXT’s Cirtain.