from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Traveling to mars is going to be a really, really long term project. We had some fun on the moon and drove around up there in a nifty moon buggy, but we didn’t have a commitment to stay there for very long — or even plans to keep going there once we knew it could be done. Getting astronauts to mars requires a completely different level of planning than going to the moon. Current technology won’t get us there (well, at least not alive and healthy), but maybe we’re still making some progress with a few untested propulsion systems.
- Russia’s national nuclear company Rosatom could build a nuclear-powered engine to get to mars in 90 days — if it had the funding. The technology was first developed in the 1960s, but no one has really continued to work on various kinds of nuclear-powered propulsion for manned spacecraft (hmm, wonder why..?). Launching radioactive materials on a ship that might not make it into outer space could end in a spectacular disaster, but maybe if someone could build it in space from several small payloads of fissionable material? (Or better yet, build it from fissionable materials already in space….) [url]
- It’s possible to send something to mars in just 30 minutes with a (proposed) laser propulsion system. Chemical rockets to mars will take months, but using photonic propulsion could accelerate a small (lightweight, perhaps wafer-thing) object to very high speeds. One catch would be that there wouldn’t really be a way to slow it down, unless there was a decelerating laser on the other side. [url]
- It’s not beyond the imagination to think that people might someday be able to move asteroids around at will. Getting more water to mars by sending an icy asteroid there might be possible someday, and if we’re able to do that we might as well hitch a ride on it. [url]
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