NASA and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have announced a collaboration to demonstrate a nuclear thermal rocket engine in space, the key steps for sending the first crewed missions to Mars.
NASA and DARPA will partner on the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) programme, Xinhua news agency reported.
Using a nuclear thermal rocket allows for faster transit time, reducing risk for astronauts, according to NASA.
Reducing transit time is a key component for human missions to Mars, as longer trips require more supplies and more robust systems.
"NASA will work with our long-term partner, DARPA, to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear thermal propulsion technology as soon as 2027. With the help of this new technology, astronauts could journey to and from deep space faster than ever - a major capability to prepare for crewed missions to Mars," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
NASA Artemis I: Fuel seals repaired, likely to launch moon rocket on Sep 23
China to send 3 astronauts to own space station, eyes manned Moon mission
NASA, Axiom Space signs pact for sending private astronauts to ISS in 2023
UAE, NASA missions find 'patchy' proton auroras in Mars atmosphere
NASA prepares to bid goodbye to Mars InSight lander in next few weeks
Classified docs found at Mike Pence's residence, ex V-P says wasn't aware
'Doomsday Clock' set at 90 seconds to midnight amid Ukraine crisis
US Prez Biden meets with Democratic leaders as debt showdown looms
Musk defiant, defends himself in Tesla buyout tweet trial in federal court
Ukraine's corruption scandal claims jobs of several top officials