a NASA wants to build a nuclear spacecraft to compete with ChinaAccording to a US space agency official. On Wednesday (20) a request was made to the United States Congress requiring the country to “stay ahead of the Chinese in the space competition”.
according to website is iBhavya Lal, NASA’s senior adviser on budget and finance, told Congress that “strategic competitors such as China are aggressively investing in a range of space technologies such as propulsion and nuclear power.”
“The United States needs to move rapidly to remain competitive and to remain a global leader in the space community,” he said.
Hearing Lal attended the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, when experts testified that China was testing an orbital rocket to deliver nuclear weapons at supersonic speeds.
China announced in August that it had tested a spacecraft without citing the presence of nuclear weapons.
The committee has yet to decide on Chinese space race claims, but its chairman, Democratic Rep. Don Baer, said that “if the United States is serious about leading a manned mission to Mars, the country will have time.” Don’t lose”.
“Congress has prioritized the development of nuclear space propulsion in recent years, allocating nearly $100 million annually for NASA to advance nuclear thermal propulsion capabilities with the goal of conducting space flight tests in the future,” Baer said. Is.”
In July, NASA and the US Department of Energy awarded $5 million to three companies for a nuclear-powered spacecraft reactor project. They are BWX Technologies, Inc., General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems and Ultra Safer Nuclear Technologies, which will partner with several companies for the project, including Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos.
At the time, NASA said in a statement that “nuclear propulsion provides greater propellant efficiency than chemical rockets” and that it was “potential technology for crew and cargo missions on missions to Mars and scientific missions to the outer Solar System.” which allows them to be faster and more robust in many cases.”
Roger M., chairman of the Space Atomic Engine Committee for the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. For Myers, “the key to developing such engines is to identify or develop materials that can withstand the heat and exposure.”
risks associated with [a propulsão nuclear] UPI, Myers said at the hearing, is a fundamental physical challenge that we believe to be the most potentially solvable.
Lal, for his part, believes that NASA can meet the challenges for future missions to Mars with the necessary resources, but “the method of propulsion for such a spacecraft is just one issue facing the agency.” ”
“Space transport is just one piece of getting to Mars. We land small spacecraft there, but the spacecraft carrying humans will be huge. [os astronautas] Living for two to three years,” Lal said.
NASA officials believe that the budget for the production of nuclear spacecraft should be much higher than currently, but they did not give figures during the hearing.
Perhaps David Bowie’s doubts about the existence of life on Mars may remain unanswered for some time to come.