Firm building rockets to send humans outside solar gets funding boost

Pulsar Fusion founder discusses nuclear power

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A UK rocket company that is developing groundbreaking space technology that could one day take humans to planets outside our Solar System has received a major boost after receiving Government funding. Pulsar Fusion is working on harnessing the same power as the Sun to create a nuclear fusion-powered rocket that could travel distances far surpassing any other space vehicle in operation today. Having already completed flagship tests in Switzerland and the UK earlier this year, the firm is one of a number of rocket companies racing to take humans to Mars, but and beyond as the industry sets its ambitions high for the future of space travel. 

In an important step forward for the Bletchley-based firm, the has been awarded funding from the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to develop ‘Integrated nuclear fission-based power systems for electric propulsion’. 

While scientists are still scrambling how to crack the code behind creating nuclear fusion, the same process used in stars, where hydrogen atoms fuse together to form helium and matter., down on Earth, fusion rocket technology only works in the vacuum of space.

Because of this, Pulsar has had to develop hybrid rocket engines, which lay the groundwork for Pulsar’s hyper-speed propulsion engines. 

Richard Dinan, CEO of Pulsar and the former star of the reality show Made in Chelsea, previously told that this type of rocket technology could slash the time it takes to get to Mars and could one day allow humans to inhabit other planets outside of our Solar System.

Once developed, the engines may be able to send rockets whizzing through the cosmos at hyper-speeds on journeys into deep speeds. But currently, Pulsar is manufacturing a number of different types of advanced space rocket engines that, while not at that stage just yet, will help pave the way to a fusion-powered rocket.

Its plasma propulsion engines, which are powered by nuclear fission, are part of its exciting portfolio, and they give a taste of more exciting things to come. 

Not only could its technology eventually slash journey times in space, the company claims, but the fuel used in the so-called plasma thrusters could also save spacecraft operators millions of pounds in operating costs, and could also increase the value of the spacecraft’s data product.

Speaking on the UKSA funding, Dr James Lambert, Head of Operations as Pulsar, commented: “Pulsar has built and tested the most powerful electric propulsion engines in Europe.

“Combining this part of our propulsion portfolio with nuclear fission reactor technology is perfectly suited to the company’s skillsets and I am delighted that this has been recognized by the UKSA.

“The project will help us to build relationships and gather important data that will contribute towards our longer-term ambitions for nuclear fusion propulsion.”

Pulsar tested its plasma engine that will be used to blast its rocket into orbit earlier this year, and is also hoping to test its fusion rocket by 2027.

Mr Dinan previously told “Fusion means that we are not just that species that ultimately just start to destroy all our planet’s resources and then blow ourselves up.

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“We don’t know our future, but if we can do fusion, it means we can power our planet cleanly forever and it means that we can actually leave our Solar System. The speed that rocket engines that use fire move at will never give us that speed. Pulsar knows we can build a fusion rocket engine well before anyone builds a fusion power station.”

Mr Dinan also said his company was hoping to raise £200million to build more “very significant” tests. But he noted that the firm does not need any support from the big American companies like Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin or Elon Musk’s SpaceX to rely on success.

He said: “We have created an awful lot of value on a small amount of investment. We don’t feel the need to hand this over to the big American companies.”

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