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China Tested An Early Prototype Of A Nuclear Rocket Engine For Flights To Mars

Chinese scientists have created a prototype of a nuclear-powered spacecraft for flights to Mars, which will compete with the NASA rocket from Elon Musk’s company. The South China Morning Post writes about this with reference to an article in the journal of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Scientia Sinica Technologica.

According to scientists, the power of the developed nuclear reactor is 1.5 MW, which is seven times greater than the system being built by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The nuclear rocket engine being created in China in this version (it is not a fact that the project will be implemented in the current version) will weigh less than eight tons, and will be compact enough to fit under the standard fairing of standard launch vehicles. In space, the reactor will be deployed and retrofitted with cooling radiators and the necessary piping. When expanded, according to the article, it will be the height of a 20-story building.

It is alleged that the Chinese development is much more compact than the competing NASA project and seven times more powerful. Moreover, Chinese scientists predict that a flight to Mars on a nuclear-powered rocket will take about three months, while a flight on a ship like Elon Musk’s Starship will take seven months.

The Chinese prototype of a lithium-cooled nuclear reactor system has already passed initial ground tests, the publication clarified.

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