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NDA Coaching in Lucknow UP | how nasa is trying to cut travel time to mars by half


HOW NASA IS TRYING TO CUT TRAVEL TIME TO MARS BY HALF IN LESS than three years, NASA could be testing a nuclear rocket in space. #NDA Coaching Lucknow UP

The space agency and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, announced recently that Lockheed Martin had been selected to design, build, and test a propulsion system that could one-day speed astronauts on a trip to Mars.

BWX Technologies, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, will build the nuclear fission reactor at the heart of the engine. The $499 million program is named DRACO, short for the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations. #NDA Coaching Lucknow UP

NDA Coaching in Lucknow UP | how nasa is trying to cut travel time to mars by half

Four months to Mars

 What if a spacecraft could get to Mars in half the time it currently takes?

 Every 26 months or so, Mars and Earth are close enough for a shorter journey between the worlds. But even then it is a pretty long trip, lasting seven to nine months. For most of the time, the spacecraft is just coasting through space.

But if the spacecraft could continue accelerating through the first half of the journey and then start slowing down again, the travel time could be slashed. Current rocket engines, which typically rely on the combustion of a fuel like hydrogen or methane with oxygen, are not efficient enough to accomplish that; there is not enough room in the spacecraft to carry that much propellant.

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But nuclear reactions, generating energy from the splitting of uranium atoms, are much more efficient.

The DRACO engine would consist of a nuclear reactor that would heat hydrogen from a chilly minus 420 degrees Fahrenheit to a toasty 4,400 degrees, with

The hot gas shooting from a nozzle to generate thrust. Greater fuel efficiency could speed up journeys to Mars, reducing the amount of time astronauts spend exposed to the treacherous environment of deep space.

Nuclear propulsion could also have uses closer to home, which is why DARPA is investing in the project. The technology may allow rapid maneuvers of military satellites in orbit around Earth.

Back to the future

Nuclear propulsion for space is not a- new idea. In the 1950s and 1960s, Project Orion-financed by NASA, the Air Force, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-contemplated using the explosions of atomic bombs to accelerate spacecraft.

At the same time, NASA and other agencies also undertook Project Rover and Project NERVA, efforts that aimed to develop nuclear-thermal engines similar in concept to those now being pursued by the DRACO program. A series of 23 re-actors were built and tested, but none were ever launched to space. Until the end of this program in 1973, NASA had contemplated using nuclear reactors to propel space probes to Jupiter, Saturn, and beyond, as well as to provide power at a lunar base.

“The technical capabilities, including early safety protocols, remain viable today,” Tabitha Dodson, the DRACO project manager, said in a news briefing recently.

A key difference between NERVA and DRACO is that NERVA used weapons-grade uranium for its reactors, while DRACO will use a less-enriched form of uranium.

Content Written By Prashant Singh WDA

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