For a long time, nuclear-powered engines have been discussed for space exploration. Such engines would be more powerful than conventional combustion ones. But due to risks of radiation exposure, unstable reactors and other technological challenges, the idea is yet to materialize. However, a Seattle-based company has come up with an engine design that can mitigate the challenges and help realize the dreams of completing a trip to Mars in just three months.

Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies (USNC-Tech) has developed a concept design for a Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) engine. The company claims it is safer and more reliable than previous NTP designs. In addition, it has greater efficiency than a chemical combustion rocket. USNC-Tech came up with the design after receiving funding from NASA.

"Our engine maximizes the use of proven technology, eliminates failure modes of previous NTP concepts, and has a specific impulse more than twice that of chemical systems," USNC-Tech's principal engineer Dr Michael Eades said.

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