Russia has revealed a “spacecraft of the future” that could one day will send humans on Mars.
Roscosmos revealed a totaly new concept designs for the sci-fi spacecraft – but failed to say exactly when the space vehicle it would launch.
The new spaceship is currently in development at Russian Keldysh Research Centre, which is racing to create the nuclear propulsion engine system.
“Today, the Keldysh Space Centre is working on the development of a spacecraft equipped with the most powerful engines – a totaly new class of nuclear power units, which do not need either the sunlight power or solar batteries for operation,” said a spokesperson for Roscosmos.
Nuclear space travel could revolutionize the quest to hop between planets in our solar system.
Space scientists currently struggle with the actual methods of propulsion, like chemical propellants or low power electric engines that rely on solarpower.
These methods of space travel are very slow, which creates many problems for astronauts on board the craft.
“A person should not spend more than a year or two in space,” said Vladimir Koshlakov, director off the Keldysh Centre.
“Nuclear powered spacecraft will allow a fast journey, and, most importantly, a return flight.
“This new technology has special significant for interplanetary flights and research of far planets.”
According to Russian TASS agency, Koshlakov believes that a flight to Mars using just anuclear propulsion engine is “technically possible in the near future”.
The space expert admit that it could take just over a year for humans to travel to Mars and return using the nuclear system.
“The journey to the Moon will last several days, , while a flight to Mars will last about seven months,” said Koshlakov, speaking to the Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
Roscosmos has already been testing ther trials for the engine’s cooling system, which are believed to have been a real success.
The space agency has plans to make a prototype of a “megawatt class” nuclear engine, which would be used for “travel into deep space.”
This isn’t the first time Russia has experimented with nuclear technology for space travel.
Between 1970 and 1988, the Soviet Union launched 32 spacecraft with thermoelectric nuclear power reactors on board.
And Russia has been testing nuclear rocket engines since the sixties.