A NUCLEAR engine that could rocket humans to Mars in less than half the current journey time is being designed for Nasa.
The US space agency is aiming to put people on the Red Planet in the 2030s and a Seattle-based tech company thinks it can make just the right equipment for the 40 million mile journey.
Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies wants Nasa to use its engine to take humans to MarsCredit: Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies
The journey to Mars should take around seven months.
However, Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies thinks the nuclear engine its working on could cut that travel time down to just three months.
The company claims the engine will be safer, more efficient and more reliable than previous nuclear models.
It will use a special uranium fuel that can function at really high temperatures.
Nasa wants to put the first humans on Mars sometime in the 2030sCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
The firm is creating its engine concept with Nasa in mind but have noted that it could be used by other agencies or for commercial flights to other planets.
Numerous companies approach Nasa with their space tackling ideas but Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies (USN-Tech) thinks its concept could take over the market.
This is because current chemical rockets are said to be reaching their maximum potential and could be making journey times longer than necessary.
Dr. Michael Eades, principal engineer at USNC-Tech, said: “We want to lead the effort to open new frontiers in space, and do it quickly and safely.
“Our engine maximizes the use of proven technology, eliminates failure modes of previous NTP concepts, and has a specific impulse more than twice that of chemical systems.”
Nasa has not confirmed a specific date for when it wants to send a human mission to Mars but sometime in the 2030s is thought to be the aim.
The space agency’s administrator Jim Bridenstein previously explained in a blog post: “We’re planning for our first round-trip voyage to Mars to take about two years using advanced propulsion systems to enable a faster journey while limiting radiation exposure for our astronauts and other mission risks.
“Our preferred launch window will give the crew about 30 days on the Martian surface, which is ample time to search for life on another world.
“Other options could require crew to be on the surface for more than a year and away from Earth for as long as three years, but it will be a long time before we have the funding, technology, supplies, and capabilities to sustain such a mission.”
Here’s what you need to know about the red planet…
- Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun
- It is named after the Roman god of war
- The landmass of Mars is very similar to Earth but due to the difference in gravity you could jump three times higher there than you can here
- Mars is mountainous and hosts the tallest mountain known in the Solar System called Olympus Mons, which is three times higher than Everest
- Mars is considered to be the second most habitable planet after Earth
- It takes the planet 687 Earth days to orbit the Sun
- So far, there has been 56 missions to Mars but only 26 of these have been successful
In other space news, Nasa has announced the discovery of water on the Moon’s surface.
Stargazers are in for a treat this week as there’s a chance to see a comet, Uranus at opposition and a ‘Blue Moon’ on Halloween.
And, SpaceX wants to take its Starlink satellite broadband service to Mars.
Would you like to visit Mars? Let us know in the comments…
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