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In the search for life in the universe, it's time to get nuclear

An image of a concept for NASA's nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) vehicle.
Visionary view of a Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) enabled spacecraft mission outward bound. Tapping NTP can shorten travel times between Earth and the Red Planet and to other deep space destinations.

NASA wants nuclear rockets.

The agency’s administrator announced a partnership with DARPA for a demonstration by 2027. Simply put, nuclear-powered rockets use less mass than traditional liquid-fueled rockets. That means they can take missions farther and faster into our solar system -- including humans to Mars.

But it's beyond Mars where Florida Tech’s Manasvi Lingam envisions nuclear powered missions going. He’s an astrobiologist and says this technology might help us find signs of life well beyond our solar system -- and only take a few decades to get us there.

We'll hear from Lingam about the search for life in the space between stars.

And, we'll hear from NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg, who is serving as pilot for SpaceX's Crew-6 mission.

We'll talk with Hoburg about training to fly Dragon and understanding the risk of spaceflight.

An image of NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg.
NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg is launching on a mission to the International Space Station on SpaceX's Crew-6 flight. He will serve as Crew Dragon's pilot on his first mission to space.

The Crew-6 mission, carrying a crew of four, is set to take flight to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center in Florida no earlier than February 26.

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Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program.<br/><br/>Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.