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New spacecraft wants to use 'Star Trek' tech

Sunday - 10/7/2012, 7:00am  ET

WASHINGTON - If astronauts ever make the trip to Mars, it will take nearly a year to get there.

But a new spacecraft engine is under development to speed up space travel.

In the fantasy of "Star Trek," the Enterprise could cruise faster than the speed of light, thanks to the ship's powerful dilithium crystal fuel.

It seems like life imitating art at the University of Huntsville, where a team is working on a new spacecraft engine that could double the speed of space travel.

Wired reports the fuel for the experimental engine fuses a heavy isotope called deuterium with a crystal form of lithium. With a little poetic license, some are calling the experimental fuel dilithium crystals - just like on "Star Trek."

WTOP's Dick Uliano contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)