Earth to Mars in 90 Days: Pocket Reactors

Scientists from the Middle Kingdom have developed an innovative nuclear energy system, featuring a 1.5-megavat reactor that can be folded into a compact container for transportation. Once in space, it transforms into a full-scale energy installation equivalent to a 20-story building.

The system stands out for its use of liquid lithium as a highly effective coolant, enabling scientists to reduce the size of the reactor and radiation protection. Integrated into a single module weighing less than 8 tons, the detailed system is expected to generate stable power for at least ten years. The reactor is capable of heating inert gases to temperatures exceeding 1200 °C.

With advancements in nuclear fuel and corrosion protection technologies for extreme conditions, the system paves the way for piloted flights to Mars and back in just 3 months – twice as fast as using chemical rocket engines. This breakthrough will unlock new opportunities for distant space exploration, including missions to asteroids, Jupiter flybys, and solar system boundary studies.

To enable long-term unmanned operation, artificial intelligence systems will be utilized for diagnosing and resolving emergency situations without human intervention. Ground tests have successfully integrated the nuclear reactor with Brighton Cycro turbines, forming the basis of the future spaceship’s energy system.

The compact nuclear reactor, deployable in orbit after being transported in folded form by carrier rockets, signals a new era in long-range space and interplanetary travel. China sees such innovative developments as crucial for establishing leadership in the upcoming space race.

/Reports, release notes, official announcements.