In the same way increased payloads are critical to successful missions to Mars, propulsion is the other major problem to be solved. Put simply, the chemical rockets we use now are too slow. A trip to the red planet takes 9 months, and that’s simply too long for humans to be exposed to the radiation of space (especially considering another 9 months on the return trip).
Enter Franklin Chang Diaz, a former space shuttle astronaut and the current steward of Ad Astra’s VASIMR plasma engine, which promises to cut the trip down to 60 days. This is the MUST READ of the week, because his personal story is even more impressive than his technology.