The old technology that can someday propel human spacecraft towards the farthest regions of space, like the red planet Mars, is none other than nuclear-powered rockets, which the agency turned its back on a little while inside the 1970s. The agency’s renewed interest in it can be due to the fact that Russia is reportedly trying to base all of its future space flight missions around it, to power its rockets and so-called space shuttles once it manages to perfect its current prototypes.
According to a report, the Russia-based Rosatom Corporation is planning to test its first prototype nuclear engines sometime in 2010, and it is primary aim for making it can be making it all the way from Earth on the planet Mars. So far, it can be said that Russia has led in this particular field of research, which it’s already deployed greater than 30 different fission reactors in space up to now. This details are from your World Nuclear Association, which has been keeping a close eye on the state run record for quite a while now.
Meanwhile, Russia isn’t the only 1 using its eyes around the prize. China has been said being intending to use atomic-powered shuttles and also section of its space exploration projects from now through 2045, according towards the China-based state Xinhua News Agency.
For its part, NASA has already begun the whole process of studying nuclear-powered rocket technology when preparing for future Mars missions. In 2017, the business signed an $18.8 million partnership with BWXT Nuclear Energy to have them design a reactor as well as develop fuel that can be used in a new type of nuclear-thermal propulsion engine designed for space travel. Nuclear thermal propulsion technology is nothing new, but it’s been left unused for years now. This time around, NASA wants to exceed feasibility studies and employ it in actual space travel missions.
According to Jonathan Cirtain, the second in command for advanced technology programs at BWXT, the future of the complete space industry might be riding around the success or failure of today’s efforts to develop nuclear-powered rocket technology for space missions. “The application of BWXT capabilities for manufacturing systems for space applications is a modest but very important area of technical development,” he was quoted saying. “The sized the market is directly stuck just using how easily methods might be manufactured and the way these in-space nuclear power systems for either electrical or propulsive power rival alternative sources.”
Although the U.S. did choose to stop using atomic rockets in space missions several years back due to a few different reasons, everything has changed drastically, making their use viable once more. As BWXT’s Cirtain himself said, “Significant advances in material research and technology development have allowed for brand new materials being considered for your critical components of the reactor.”
According to Jeffrey Sheehy, the primary engineer in the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA, using nuclear propulsion technology could offer much-needed flexibility for future space missions. “The novelty in the reactor design limits the amount of nuclear fuel required to carry out a propulsion maneuver,” he was quoted saying. “It can be possible to restart that engine multiple times.”
Clearly, NASA needs to hurry though , in developing modern nuclear propulsion tech that can be used to keep in front of competing nations inside worldwide space race. Otherwise, the U.S. will not be the main one to profit through the future discoveries that numerous future space missions could hold.