Nuclear powered rocket to cut the travel time to Mars in half by traveling 500,000 mph

An aerospace company is undertaking what could be the next generation of space travel within the solar system, a nuclear-powered rocket.

A UK-based aerospace company called Pulsar Fusion has taken Elon Musk's request for a nuclear-powered rocket very seriously, as the new company continues development on what could be the next generation of space travel.

In July 2019, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that NASA should begin researching a nuclear thermal rocket for fast transit around the solar system, and now Pulsar Fusion is working on just that. The new aerospace company is developing a rocket that's powered by nuclear fusion and would be able to reach speeds of up to 500,000 mph, cutting the travel time between Earth and Mars by half.

If such a rocket was developed successfully, humans could reach the Red Planet in just a matter of weeks instead of the current estimated travel time of months. NASA estimates with current rocket technology that a trip to Mars would take seven months, and the humans that land on the Red Planet's surface would only be able to stay there for four years due to unsafe radiation levels.

With seven months of travel each way, this would mean transit time would consume as much as 30% of the total four-year adventure. If the travel time is cut in half, researchers would have more time on the Red Planet's surface to conduct experiments and valuable scientific research.

"Humanity has a huge need for faster propulsion in our growing space economy, and fusion offers 1,000 times the power of the conventional ion thrusters currently used in orbit," Richard Dinan, the CEO of Pulsar Fusion, said in a statement. "If humans can achieve fusion for energy, then fusion propulsion in space is inevitable."

Pulsar Fusion expects it will be able to complete the development of its nuclear fusion rocket by the end of the decade.

"[A] fusion rocket could allow us to send people to Mars and bring them back in weeks, not months or years," said Pulsar propulsion engineer Adam Baker. "It could allow us to do round trips to the outer planets of the solar system, to send people to see the rings of Saturn or the moons of Jupiter."


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