Nuclear-powered Mars: the future of spacecraft

Nuclear-powered Mars: the future of spacecraft
Nuclear-powered Mars: the future of spacecraft

In the distant 1960s, scientists promoted the idea of using nuclear-powered engines to fly to neighboring planets. Well, everything is still ahead!

Modern science is literally obsessed with flying to Mars. Imagine a tiny nuclear reactor securely enclosed in a containment so that the only outlet for energy is through the funnel-shaped opening of the engine. Depleted uranium in it is split by neutrons, which initiate a chain reaction of decay, so that the hydrogen propellant flowing through it evaporates in huge volumes.

What will we get in the end? Cravings, of course. Even nuclear bombs work on a similar principle, although in this case there is a hard limiter. Proponents of this concept assure that the fuel for such a reactor is more stable, and the reaction itself is less dangerous - so you should not think that there will be a kind of time bomb on board the spacecraft.

During the golden age of the nuclear dream - a time when people saw nuclear energy as a radical solution to many problems - scientists and designers came up with nuclear versions of almost all kinds of consumer products. Car manufacturers showcased concept cars powered by nuclear reactors. Even after the United States dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan, people believed that "consumer" nuclear energy could be completely safe and revolutionary.

Looking back, we know what happened next. But even before the crisis, a prolific, curious scientist and "anomalist" named William Corliss wrote about the possibility of carrying nuclear energy into space. "One day, a rocket will launch a manned spacecraft from a station in Earth orbit into an elliptical orbit designed to intercept the planet Mars seven months later," Corliss said in a 1966 report to the Atomic Energy Commission.

It is worth noting that in recent years, NASA and military contractors have begun to enter into partnerships with companies such as Interstellar Technologies and Atomos-Kosmos - these are associations that specialize in nuclear development. Even after almost 60 years, scientists are confident that in modern conditions, only nuclear engines will make it possible to carry out a flight to the distant Red Planet so that the entire mission takes a reasonable time and is crowned with success.

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