Report: NASA’s solely reasonable path for people on Mars is nuclear propulsion



Enlarge / NASA initially studied nuclear thermal propulsion within the 1960s. Right here is idea artwork for the Nuclear Vitality for Rocket Automobile Purposes (NERVA) program. (credit score: NASA)
Getting people to Mars and again is fairly exhausting. Insanely tough, actually. Many challenges confront NASA and different would-be Mars pioneers when planning missions to the crimson planet, however chief amongst them is the quantity of propellant wanted.
Through the Apollo program 50 years in the past, people went to the Moon utilizing chemical propulsion, which is to say rocket engines that burned liquid oxygen and hydrogen in a combustion chamber. This has its benefits, equivalent to giving NASA the power to begin and cease an engine shortly, and the expertise was then essentially the most mature one for house journey. Since then, a number of new in-space propulsion strategies have been devised. However none are higher or quicker for people than chemical propulsion.
That is an issue. NASA has a few baseline missions for sending 4 or extra astronauts to Mars, however counting on chemical propulsion to enterprise past the Moon most likely will not lower it. The principle purpose is that it takes a complete lot of rocket gasoline to ship provides and astronauts to Mars. Even in favorable situations the place Earth and Mars line up each 26 months, a humans-to-Mars mission nonetheless requires 1,000 to 4,000 metric tons of propellant.Learn 14 remaining paragraphs | Feedback



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