Hotter than the sun: Nuclear fusion rocket could halve flight time to Mars

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A UK startup is building a nuclear fusion rocket engine that aims to halve the journey time to Mars.

Pulsar Fusion, an aerospace firm based in Bletchley, expects the system to exceed speeds of 805,000kmph and the hottest temperatures in the solar system. To reach those eye-popping targets, the startup will harness nuclear fusion, a reaction that gives the Sun its energy.

In brief, nuclear fusion fuses two atoms together to liberate vast amounts of energy. Scientists believe the process can create limitless, zero-carbon energy to replace fossil fuels. But the benefits could reach space before they’re felt on Earth.

Space is the ideal place to do fusion in terms of it being a vacuum and the extremely cold temperatures,” said Richard Dinan, CEO and founder of Pulsar Fusion.

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“Unlike a fusion power station, fusion propulsion doesn’t require a giant steam turbine and fuels can be sourced externally rather than needing to be created on-site.”

To reap these benefits, Dinan plans to produce propulsion directly in the fusion engine. He believes this can be achieved within just four years.

Pulsar Fusion CEO Richard Dinan