March 18, 2016

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told Congress Thursday that Nuclear Thermal Propulsion developed at least in part in Alabama will probably get American astronauts to Mars." Bolden was questioned by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) during a House Space Subcommittee hearing on the White House's fiscal year 2017 budget proposal for NASA. Brooks is vice-chairman of the subcommittee. by Lee Roop

'Nuclear Thermal Propulsion uses either nuclear fusion or fission to generate large energy capable of sending thrust out the back of an engine and driving a rocket forward. Some engines like these could get astronauts to Mars in 90 days, researchers say.

'"We are on a Journey to Mars and most people believe that—in the end—Nuclear Thermal Propulsion will probably be the most effective form of propulsion to get there," Bolden told Brooks.

'Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is the place NASA, the Defense Department and other agencies "go when they want to discuss in-space and leaving-the-Earth propulsion issues...," Bolden said. "Marshall is the dominant center, they have most of the capability there, and they're working with some of their local contractors who are helping them with developing Nuclear Thermal Propulsion."

'Scientists are looking for a way to speed up the journey to Mars in part because of dangerous radiation astronauts will be exposed to on the way. Long duration flights also expose astronauts to bone- and muscle loss and vision problems.'

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