According to a new agreement with the British Space Agency, using nuclear propulsion engines manufactured by Rolls-Royce, British spacecraft can reach Mars in half the time it currently takes.
The aerospace company hopes that nuclear-powered engines can help astronauts reach Mars in three to four months at twice the speed of the most powerful chemical engines, and it is expected to carry out more in-depth space exploration in the next few decades.
The partnership between Rolls-Royce and the British Space Agency will bring planetary scientists together to discuss how to use nuclear energy to “change the revolutionary nature of space travel.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the UK Space Agency, Dr. Graham Turnk, said that the use of nuclear energy in space is “a revolutionary concept that can unlock future deep space missions and allow us to enter Mars and beyond.”
He said: “This research will help us understand the exciting potential of atomic-powered spacecraft and whether this emerging technology can help us go one step further and travel through space faster than ever before.”
The government hopes that nuclear technology can change space travel by providing enough energy to power spacecraft, because spacecraft are getting farther and farther from the sun and cannot use solar energy.
Rolls-Royce provided the nuclear propulsion technology that has powered the Royal Navy’s submarine fleet for 60 years. The company hopes to also build several small modular nuclear reactors on land to help meet the UK’s growing electricity demand.
Dave Gordon, the head of the Ministry of Defence of Rolls-Royce, said that the UK’s “pioneering project” in nuclear space advancement can be achieved by using the UK’s existing nuclear industry and supplies. Chain to take advantage of “true niche British capabilities”.
The British plan to build an atomic spacecraft will not be the first. American scientists first tested nuclear spacecraft technology in the Nevada desert in the 1950s and 1960s, and then cancelled the program in 1971.
In recent decades, the United States has implemented several nuclear space programs. In the second half of last year, the US government issued a new space policy directive to advance the nuclear development of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The Secretary of State for Science, Amanda Solloway, stated that nuclear power “provides transformative possibilities for space exploration” and may help create jobs.
She said that research with Rolls-Royce can help “promote our next generation of astronauts into space faster and longer, which will greatly increase our understanding of the universe.” .