A new concept of a nuclear engine will speed up space flights at times

Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies has developed a safer and more efficient nuclear rocket engine concept that can significantly shorten the duration of long-distance space travel.

To date, chemical rockets have already approached their limit values, and electric propulsion systems have a weak thrust. Therefore, researchers are returning to the idea of ​​nuclear energy as a more efficient and powerful option.. Previous developments were discontinued due to what during the operation of a nuclear reactor emits radiation that will harm the crew of the ship.

However, engineers at Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies claim to have solved this problem by completely ceramic microencapsulation of quality low enriched uranium. To produce such fuel, the team used recycled raw materials from civilian facilities. After enrichment by 5-20%, it was encapsulated in particles coated with zirconium carbide (ZrC).

A new concept of a nuclear engine will speed up space flights at times

This treatment makes the fuel more durable and allows it to be used at high operating temperatures, which increases not only engine safety, but also its thrust. from specific impulse to levels that can usually be achieved using only highly enriched uranium. The team argues that such fuel can be produced in existing plants without the need to modernize them..

According to the developers, the new concept of a nuclear engine will reduce the flight time from Earth to Mars to three months. The company plans to bring its technology to the commercial market and has already offered it to NASA, which has resumed research in this direction since March..

text: Ilya Bauer, photo: USNC-Tech

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