First humans to reach Mars will travel on nuclear-powered spacecraft

NASA is working on a nuclear-powered spacecraft called DRACO. But even with this crazy technology, a journey to Mars would still take seven months.

by | Published on 2nd Aug 2023

The space race is in full swing and this time we’re gunning for Mars.

NASA is planning to take humans to the Red Planet, and they want to do it with nuclear power.

READ MORE: This ‘NASA’ bike is designed to be used on Mars

NASA is teaming up with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to launch a new type of nuclear-powered spacecraft called DRACO, which stands for Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations.

They do love their acronyms, don’t they?

But acronyms aside, this is more than vaporware because the first spacecraft is being built by Lockheed Martin as we speak, and it should be ready for take-off by 2026.

DRACO uses a new type of technology called NTR.

Yep, it’s yet another acronym and it stands for Nuclear Thermal Rocket.

NASA says the thrust-to-weight ratio is 10,000 times greater than electric propulsion.

The first unmanned DRACO will travel into Earth’s high orbit, before igniting the nuclear engine to reach Mars.

If the trip is successful, NASA and DARPA will begin working on a new spacecraft designed to accommodate passengers.

Sort of like when you take your car for a test drive around the block before going on a proper 1,000-mile road trip.

NASA administration Bill Nelson says this new technology will allow “humans to travel in deep space at record speed.”

Mind you, it’s all relative.

Even at that speed, the 300-million-mile journey to Mars would still take at least seven months.

What else is going on at NASA?

In other, somewhat unrelated news, NASA is launching its own streaming channel to rival the likes of Netflix, HULU, Prime Video, etc.

It’s called NASA+, and it’s completely free, with no ads either.

Presumably the streaming service’s content will focus on space-related films and documentaries, but you never know.

We’ll find out soon.



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Experienced content creator with a strong focus on cars and watches. Alessandro penned the first-ever post on the Supercar Blondie website and covers cars, watches, yachts, real estate and crypto. Former DriveTribe writer, fixed gear bike owner, obsessed with ducks for some reason.

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