|One concept for a nuclear-powered |
The only realistic sources of power for these rockets are nuclear fission reactors. One nuclear reactor was flown in space by the United States in the 1960s, and over 30 were flown by the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, these reactors produced far less than 200 megawatts. A Nimitz-class aircraft carrier uses two reactors, each capable of producing 100 megawatts of electrical power. So it would take the power plant of one of these carriers for the VASIMR to push a crew to Mars in 39 days. Someone will have to get started on designing these reactors if NASA is going to live up to Bolden's words.