Exploring the Universe with Nuclear Power
Artist’s concept of a Bimodal Nuclear Thermal Rocket in Low Earth Orbit. Credit: NASA
In the past four decades, NASA and other space agencies from around the world have accomplished some amazing feats. Together, they have sent manned missions to the Moon, explored Mars, mapped Venus and Mercury, conducted surveys and captured breathtaking images of the Outer Solar System. However, looking ahead to the next generation of exploration and the more-distant frontiers that remain to be explored, it is clear that new ideas need to be put forward of how to quickly and efficiently reach those destinations.
Basically, this means finding ways to power rockets that are more fuel and cost-effective while still providing the necessary power to get crews, rovers and orbiters to their far-flung destinations. In this respect, NASA has been taking a good look at nuclear fission as a possible means of propulsion.
In fact, according to presentation made by Doctor Michael G. Houts of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center back in October of 2014, nuclear power and propulsion have the potential to be “game changing technologies for space exploration.”
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