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Nuclear-powered spaceships for fast trips to Mars may now be one step closer to reality.

NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have teamed up to fund three design concepts for reactors that could become part of a nuclear thermal propulsion system, a next-generation technology that could make the exploration of deep space faster and more efficient.

For example, a spacecraft powered by a nuclear thermal rocket could potentially get to Mars in just three to four months, experts say — about half the time required using traditional chemical rockets.

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