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NASA and DARPA team up to go nuclear in hopes of putting boots on Mars


US research agencies NASA and DARPA are teaming up to create a nuclear thermal rocket engine in hopes the tech will one day carry crewed missions to Mars.

The Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) is expected to prove nuclear thermal propulsion by 2027. DARPA has been working on an experimental spacecraft design for the project since 2021.

NASA now joins to tackle the engine's technical development while DARPA will continue leading the overall program, inclusive of integrating the systems, procurement, schedules, security, and assembly of the engine and spacecraft.

Both agencies will collaborate on assembly of the engine.

"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.

DARPA director Stefanie Tompkins said before Mars, DRACO will be essential for transporting material to the ...


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