NASA and the Pentagon are developing a nuclear engine to fly to Mars

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA is working with the Pentagon to develop a nuclear-powered rocket engine to send astronauts to Mars.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said that the US space agency will team up with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear thermal propulsion technology in 2027.

“With this new technology, astronauts will be able to travel to and from deep space faster than ever, an important opportunity to prepare for crewed missions to Mars,” Nelson said in a statement.

DARPA is the research and development arm of the Pentagon. It has been instrumental in many notable innovations of the 20th century, including the Internet.

NASA has said that nuclear thermal rockets can be more than three times as efficient as conventional chemical propulsion. They will shorten the flight time of a possible mission to Mars.

“DARPA and NASA have a long history of great collaboration,” said DARPA director Stephanie Tompkins, referring to the Saturn V rocket that carried the first astronauts to the moon.

“The nuclear thermal propulsion program will be essential to more efficiently and quickly transport materials to the Moon and, ultimately, humans to Mars.”

NASA conducted its last test of a nuclear thermal rocket engine over 50 years ago, but the program was canceled due to budget cuts.


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