Home https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Science https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Rolls-Royce and the UK Space Agency are working on a nuclear-powered space engine

Rolls-Royce and the UK Space Agency are working on a nuclear-powered space engine



Rolls-Royce and UK Space Agency join forces to develop nuclear-powered spacecraft engines that can take us to Mars in just three months

  • The companies will investigate the potential of nuclear power as an energy source
  • A nuclear-powered spacecraft engine could reduce travel times to Mars by half
  • They could also reduce the dose of radiation that the astronauts took

The British manufacturer of aircraft engines Rolls-Royce has formed an unlikely alliance with the UK Space Agency to develop nuclear-powered spacecraft engines.

The collaboration will see the two organizations working together to explore the potential of nuclear power as an energy source for future expeditions into deep space.

If successful, a nuclear spacecraft could reduce its travel time to Mars to just three to four months – about half the possible time using current chemical engines.

What’s more, the reduced travel times will mean that astronauts aboard the spacecraft are exposed to less radiation during flight, making future trips to Mars or other planets safer.

If successful, a nuclear-powered spacecraft engine could reduce travel time to Mars to just three to four months - about half the possible time using current systems

If successful, a nuclear-powered spacecraft engine could reduce travel time to Mars to just three to four months – about half the possible time using current systems

WHAT IS NUCLEAR PROPULSION?

Atomic propulsion involves channeling the release of energy by splitting the atom to accelerate propellants at enormous speeds.

Rolls-Royce and the UK Space Agency predict that this type of engine could be twice as efficient as the chemical engines currently used to power rockets, reducing travel times by half.

With travel times halved, astronauts would be exposed to a lower dose of radiation, which could protect them from both radiation sickness and cancer.

Nuclear propulsion has previously been described by NASA as a ” game-changing technology for deep space research. ”

It involves channeling the release of energy at the breakdown of the atom to accelerate propellants at enormous speeds.

Rolls-Royce and the UK Space Agency predict that this type of engine could be twice as efficient as the chemical engines currently used to power rockets, reducing travel times by half.

Dr Graham Turnock, CEO of the United Kingdom Space Agency, said: ‘Space nuclear power and propulsion is a game-changing concept that could unlock future deep space missions leading us to Mars and beyond.

‘This study will help us understand the exciting potential of nuclear-powered spacecraft and whether this emerging technology can help us travel farther and faster through space than ever before.’

A nuclear-powered engine could also make travel into deep space safer for astronauts.

With travel times halved, astronauts would be exposed to a lower dose of radiation, which could protect them from both radiation sickness and cancer.

Rolls-Royce and the UK space agency predict that this type of engine could be twice as efficient as the chemical engines currently used to power rockets, reducing travel times by half.

Rolls-Royce and the UK space agency predict that this type of engine could be twice as efficient as the chemical engines currently used to power rockets, reducing travel times by half.

‘Space radiation can place astronauts at significant risk for radiation sickness and increased lifetime risk of cancer, effects on the central nervous system and degenerative diseases,’ NASA explained.

Dave Gordon, UK Senior Vice President, Rolls-Royce Defense said: ‘We are delighted to be working with the UK Space Agency on this groundbreaking project to define future space nuclear technologies.

‘We believe that there is a real niche capacity in the UK in this area and this initiative can build on the strong UK nuclear network and supply chain.

‘We look forward to developing this and other exciting space projects in the future as we continue to develop the power to protect our planet, secure our world and explore our universe.’

The idea of ​​a nuclear-powered spacecraft engine is not new.

NASA launched a program back in 1961 to develop a nuclear-powered engine, though the program was discontinued in 1972 due to space budget cuts.

Now, more than 45 years later, NASA is once again working on an NTP (Nuclear Thermal Propulsion) system.

“We are working on a first-generation NTP system that has great growth potential,” said Doyce ‘Sonny’ Mitchell, head of the NTP project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

NASA’s timeline for the project remains unclear.

NASA plans to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s after the first landing on the Moon

Mars has become the next giant leap for humanity’s exploration of space.

But before humans reach the red planet, astronauts will take a series of small steps by returning to the moon for a year-long mission.

Details of a mission in lunar orbit have been revealed as part of a timeline of events leading up to missions to Mars in the 2030s.

Nasa has outlined its four-step plan (pictured), which it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars at the Human to Mars summit held in Washington DC yesterday.  This will lead to more missions to the moon over the coming decades

Nasa has outlined its four-step plan (pictured), which it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars at the human to Mars summit held in Washington DC yesterday. This will lead to more missions to the moon over the coming decades

In May 2017, Greg Williams, assistant associate administrator for policy and plans at Nasa, outlined the space agency’s four-step plan, which it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars as well as its expected time frame.

Phase one and two will involve several trips to the lunar space to enable the construction of a habitat that provides a staging area for the journey.

The last piece of hardware delivered would be the actual Deep Space Transport vehicle that would later be used to carry a crew to Mars.

And a years-long simulation of life on Mars will be completed in 2027.

Phases three and four will begin after 2030 and will involve sustained crew expeditions to the Mars system and Mars’ surface.

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