For those of you dreaming of reaching Mars, Mercury and other faraway destinations minus the chemical rockets, NASA and Russia are warming up to the idea of using nuclear spaceships in the not so distant future.
Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos and NASA will discuss the development of a nuclear-powered spaceship on April 15, agency director Anatoly Perminov said on Monday. [...]
A nuclear engine design is to be completed by 2012, while the project’s implementation will require 17 billion rubles ($600 million). (RIA Novosti)
Although $600 million is chump change (at least as far as US federal spending goes), Russia is reportedly going to should most of the cost, with NASA filling in the rest.
As a bonus, NASA and Russia are open to partnering with other nuclear powers, which means we could see eastern nations (like China and Japan) as well as European countries contributing their scientific know how in order to ensure that the rocket is a success.
While chemical rockets are useful in helping us reach neighboring worlds like the Moon, we are going to need something a little bit faster if we want to see boot prints upon crimson soil.
(Hat Tip: Space Travel)