Although it has been almost 47 years since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin came out of the lunar module and stepped on the surface of the moon, we have still not developed new tecnhology from the drive system of those times. Moreover, when the Americans decided to develop the SLS, as a propulsion system based on the classic combination of hydrogen and oxygen, that should return us back to the moon and to Mars, many have asked whether such a system is capable of supporting a successful manned missions to Mars.
Anyway, it seems that the Russians are asking the same, more so because from their nuclear company Rosatom, information recently leaked that they are constructing a nuclear driven system that would shorten a manned mission between Earth and Mars on only 45 days.
Moreover, a team of Rosatom reportedly has a plan for fast return of cosmonauts from Mars (NASA has no such plan or tech) especially in light of the fact that in previous years total Mars missions exceded 18 months that would have negative influence of the quality of life of cosmonauts (Astronauts) and human health in general.
Let us mention here that this is not the first attempt to develop a spacecraft that is nuclear-powered, as Russians and Americans had such plans during the 60s of the 20th century. Endeavored to design aircraft that would be powered by a nuclear reactor, but only on smaller spacecraft, such as satellites.
Although officials of Rosatom did not want to reveal what kind of nuclear technology that would be, it is assumed that it could include the production of heat through the process of fission, which could then be used to burn a mixture of hydrogen or other chemical compound, at least in the initial stages of travel.
“The spacecraft equipped with a nuclear reactor should have a 30 times greater supplies of energy compared to conventional spacecraft. Concepts we develop will enable mankind build spacecraft that can meet the challenges of the 21st century, such as freight transport, removing space junk, rejecting an asteroid impact, etc., ” ~ The Rosatom.
Moreover, the company revealed that the first prototype of the drive will be ready for testing already in 2018. provided they manage to collect the necessary funds. Since Rosatom has a budget of $ 700 million, which is only a fraction of the funds foreseen for the SLS, which costs about $ 10 billion, so the question remains how the Russians will finance that project. Who knows, perhaps President Putin will reaching out to the state budget to complete this. Hopefully it will.