50 years ago Friday, Apollo 8 took off and on Christmas Eve that year, human beings first saw the Earth from the moon. Humbling.
NASA built a dome on the isolated slopes of a Hawaiian volcano, where six people lived on a simulated Mars mission for a year. They wore space suits when they went out. Inside, they enjoyed six bedrooms, one bath, kitchen, pantry, science lab, solar power, preserved food, and an Internet connection with a 20-minute delay (just like on Mars). The dome even has a TARDIS, though it’s out of order.
A real life mission to Mars will be multinational, involve lots of robots, and strong partnerships with private companies like SpaceX.
It’s going to happen. Indeed, it’s already started, with robotic exploration.
“We’ve been on Mars for 40 years,” says NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We didn’t just come to this rodeo.”
NASA and the author of ‘The Martian’ tell us exactly how we’ll get to Mars – Brian Fung, The Washington Post
The drive supposedly gets its propulsive power by absorbing microwaves. If it works, it would revolutionize space travel and open up the Solar System to exploitation and colonization.
Of course it’s bullshit. If things seem to violate the laws of physics, it’s because they do.
But what if it’s not bullshit?
The gist of EmDrive is that it’s an engine that appears to gain intense amounts of propulsion via ambient microwave energy. Supposedly, this could make for spaceships that can gain speed without propellant in the vacuum of space. If it’s true, then this technology would be a revolution in space—a way to drastically cut down on the mass of spaceships and keep them going by producing continuous thrust, bringing long voyages closer to reality.
In reality, of course, the EmDrive has always been dubious at best. A tenuous connection to NASA has made the idea sound more plausible, but it isn’t. People get starry eyed at the idea of a low-power microwave drive that could propel humanity to the stars and forget the cardinal rule of technology: that if something seems to violate the law of physics, then there’s probably something wrong with the analysis, not the physics.
I love the GIF accompanying this post. We’re sending Minnie into space.