With a nuclear space engine, reaching Mars will take less time

Rolls-Royce and the UK Space Agency are seeking to develop a nuclear-powered spacecraft engine. Target: Mars.

Rolls-Royce and the UK Space Agency will work together to develop a nuclear powered engine. The goal is to shorten the time to travel to Mars.

Currently, with a common engine the trip takes almost eight months. With a nuclear powered one it would only take three or four months.

With the reduced trips the astronauts would be exposed to less radiation during the flight. The aim is for the journey to be as safe as possible.

A word from the leaders of the UK Space Agency and Rolls-Royce

Graham Turnock is Executive Director of the UK Space Agency. « Space nuclear power and propulsion, » he says, « are game-changing concepts. They could unlock future missions in deep space. « 

« This study will help us understand the exciting potential of atomic-powered spacecraft, » he stresses. « Also whether this nascent technology could help us travel further and faster through space. »

Also speaking was Dave Gordon, Senior Vice President for Rolls-Royce in the UK. « We are excited to work with the UK Space Agency on this pioneering project to define the future of nuclear technologies in space. »

Both Turnock and Gordon are cited by the Daily Mail.

NASA is also looking for a nuclear engine that can be used for trips to Mars

Between 1961 and 1972, NASA worked to create a nuclear-powered engine. However, budget cuts forced the program to be suspended.

Currently, the North American agency is working on a Nuclear Thermal Propulsion system.