NASA will join a military program to develop nuclear thermal propulsion

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However, its Space Technology Mission Directorate will lead the technical development of the nuclear thermal engine, a key component of the spacecraft that will harness energy from the nuclear reactor. An influential report published in 2021 concluded that the space agency's only realistic path to putting humans on Mars in the coming decades was using nuclear propulsion. The program consists of the development of two things: a nuclear fission reactor and a spacecraft to fly it.

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