Friday, November 26, 2010
Caption: NASA wants to skip the rockets and develop a hypersonic space plane that can take off from a runway here on Earth and fly straight to Mars.
Who will land on Mars first? More news on this worldwide space race in a report from Dvice.com: "Rockets, on the whole, are pretty inefficient: they waste most of their power just lifting their own fuel. Plus, riding on top of a barely controlled explosion isn't the safest or most reliable way to travel. As far as NASA is concerned, rockets are on the way out, and they're ponying up $15 million over the next three years to develop a hypersonic fixed wing hybrid air/space craft capable of taking off and flying straight into space at Mach 20. Getting into Earth orbit is just phase one... NASA also wants this same vehicle to be able to land on Mars. The landing bit is going to be just as tricky to figure out as the takeoff, since the vehicle will have to withstand extreme temperatures and stresses as it descends through a planetary atmosphere." The Dvice.com report has further details plus a link to the original NASA proposal. Another report here. Meanwhile, an i09 report (here) suggests that while survivable manned missions to Mars are at least 25 years way, the space race might be won much sooner by a country that is willing to send its astronauts on a one-way, historic suicide mission.