Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies, a Seattle, Washington-based company, reported they had sent NASA a concept design for nuclear thermal propulsion engine. As part of a study on space flight, they designed a NTP with the aim of getting Mars in just three months for future space travel missions. It comes after NASA officials have said nuclear-powered systems will be required for further exploration into space.
NTP systems use nuclear fission, power from splitting atoms, to create thrust, and are generally more efficient than existing chemical rockets.
Michael Eades, principal engineer at USNC-Tech, issued a statement on the company’s nuclear engine, touting it as even more reliable than other designs.
He also claimed the company’s NTP design has a specific impulse, referring to the amount of thrust from a propellant, “more than twice that of chemical systems.”
Mr Eades added: “We want to lead the effort to open new frontiers in space, and do it quickly and safely.”
NASA news: NASA has received a design for a nuclear thermal propulsion system
NASA news: NTP systems have been touted to slash travel to Mars by more than half
NTP systems have been looked at as promising ways to slash space travel time with heavier payloads than modern advanced rockets.
Experts believe the systems will be able to halve the travel time to Mars, which is currently held to be seven months one way.
Paolo Venneri, UNSC-Tech CEO, has claimed their design uses nuclear design aspects from reactor, and added: “Key to USNC-Tech’s design is a conscious overlap between terrestrial and space reactor technologies.
“This allows us to leverage the advancements in nuclear technology and infrastructure from terrestrial systems and apply them to our space reactors.”
NASA news: Most rockets use chemical propulsion systems, with fuel burned at great cost
NASA news: Mars has been spotlighted as the next destination for humanity
The proposal followed NASA scientists and engineers admitting nuclear-powered engines were the next big step forward for space travel.
Former NASA administrator Daniel Goldin recently argued “it’s time to grow up” and go nuclear for future space exploration missions.
In a statement, NASA said adopting NTP would save the company millions, and added: “What if it costs less, carries more, and uses less fuel? This radical system is in-space electric propulsion.
“It can reduce the amount of fuel, or propellant, needed by up to 90 percent compared to chemical propulsion systems, saving millions in launch costs while providing greater missions flexibility.”
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It also follows companies eyeing up ways to make interplanetary travel more of a reality in the near-future.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX have touted their Starship rocket as almost ready to start travelling to Mars.
Mr Musk, CEO of the company, said in a conversation with Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin that SpaceX is on track to begin its first unmanned mission to Mars within four years time.
He added, referring to a once-every-26-month period: “I think we have a fighting chance of making that second Mars transfer window.”
NASA news: NTP systems could power electrical systems, saving millions
NASA news: China has made huge investments into space travel in recent years
An expert has also warned NASA are being challenge by China over being the dominant space power.
Dr Malcolm Davis, Senior Analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told Express.co.uk: “The Chinese have made it very clear they intend to be a comprehensive space power, certainly by 2049. That is in their official statements.
“I think they’re probably moving faster than that to try and achieve that goal.
“So we’ll see how they go about that. It’s not just the military side of things there, it’s also the civil and commercial side of things.”