VASIMR: hope or hype for Mars exploration?

“A human mission to Mars has to overcome any number of challenges, technological and otherwise, but one of the biggest is the long travel times to go to Mars and back. NASA’s notional concept for a human Mars mission, the Design Reference Architecture, seeks to minimize that travel time with a “fast” trajectory that gets a crew from Earth to Mars in six months, with an equal length for a return trip. That’s within the experience base NASA and other agencies have accumulated on the International Space Station and Mir, but in a different radiation environment than an interplanetary mission. Moreover, an ISS crew has the ability to return to Earth within hours in the event of an emergency, an option not available for a Mars-bound crew.” Read more

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