Fission mission The Engineer

A European mission to send astronauts to Mars would be based on spacecraft powered by nuclear reactors, according to researchers at Qinetiq. Although the future holds little prospect of more funding for manned space flight, the European Space Agency wants to begin developing the necessary systems in readiness. It has awarded a contract to a consortium of companies including Qinetiq to study technologies for a journey to Mars and for use in its harsh environment, as part of its Aurora programme.