NASA funded the development of the idea of using a nuclear propulsion system to transport people to Mars in 45 days instead of 6 to 9 months as currently.
NASA nuclear missile simulation.
NASA nuclear missile simulation. (Photo: NASA)
Idea Nuclear Thermal and Electric Propulsion System (NTP/NEP) is a new class of nuclear propulsion system that uses a wave rotor cycle, according to NASA. Professor Ryan Gosse of the University of Florida, the scientist behind the proposal, said the design could reduce flight time to Mars by 45 days. If the technology works as expected, it will significantly reduce travel times, making missions to the Red Planet safer for humans. This is one of 14 suggestions Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program of NASA selected for Development Phase I and was granted a budget of USD 12,500 for research and development.
Nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) Uses a nuclear reactor to heat liquid hydrogen propellant, turns it into plasma, and passes it through a nozzle to create thrust. In the meantime, nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) Using a nuclear reactor to provide propulsion Hall effect (ion engine) electrically. The process creates an electromagnetic field that ionizes and accelerates the inert gas to create thrust.
Gosse combines the advantages of NTP and NEP with new ideas. It introduced a dual-module design based on a solid-core NERVA reactor that provides a 900-second pulse, twice the performance of current chemical rockets. Gosse also recommends using wave rotor (WR) to compress the reaction mass under the pressure produced by the heat of the liquid hydrogen fuel in the reactor. According to him, this method is capable of providing thrust equivalent to NTP with a pulse duration of 1,400 to 2,000 seconds. Combined with the CIP cycle, this will create even higher thrust.
With current technology, a human flight to Mars could last 6 to 9 months. So reducing flight duration to 45 days means Mars missions could last only a few months instead of several years. This is very important because astronauts are exposed to high levels of radiation that can be fatal during long-term missions. Not only that, microgravity acting on humans for such a long time also negatively affects health, which is why researchers are always looking for ways to shorten the mission duration on the Red Planet.
Article source: VnExpress
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NASA is funding the development of ideas to use nuclear propulsion systems to transport people to Mars in 45 days instead of the current 6 to 9 months…