File photo: The planet Mars show the tones of Terra Meridiani is seen in an undated NASA image. REUTERS/NASA/Greg Shirah/Hand-out
Ever wondered how long it would take to get to Mars?
With Elon Musk’s successful launch of the world’s most powerful rocket SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, on 6 February, the man traveling to Mars looks increasingly likely.
The problem is that there is a huge distance between the Earth and Mars, that means a trip to the red planet will take a very long time.
It is also complicated by the fact that the distance is constantly changing as the two planets rotate around the sun.
The closest that Earth and Mars could ever be is a distance of 33.9 million kilometers – that is 9,800 times the distance between London and New York.
That is really rare though: the more useful distance is the average 140million km.
We have already started with a whole bunch of spacecraft (or near) Mars, so we have a rough idea of how long it takes with the current technology.
Historically, the trip has taken 128 days to 333 days, which is an enormous length of time for the man to board a small spaceship.
SpaceX’s recently launched Falcon Heavy load – which is equipped with a Tesla car is expected to Mars by around October, although there is no official estimate.
Tech mogul Elon Musk, who heads up SpaceX – says that his Interplanetary Transportation System (ITS) can manage the journey in just 80 days.
Musk, the company is spending tens of millions of dollars on the project each year, and expects that it will cost more than $10billion of € 7.2 billion) in general.
It is expected that most of Musk engineers working on THE by the end of 2018, with the ultimate goal of the colonization of Mars.
SpaceX currently expects its first cargo mission to Mars in 2022, with a human mission held for 2024.
Exciting, Musk is of the opinion that he is THE ship will eventually be able to manage the Earth to Mars trip in just 30 days.
NASA estimates it could beat Musk from time to time, as it can be adapted to a propulsion technology that uses a stream of photons instead of fuel to propel a spacecraft.
The system would involve kitting out a spaceship with reflectors that can be hit by photons, propelling it forward.
Scientists have reached nippy speeds on a small level in laboroties, but we are still far away from using it to propel a large, heavy object like a spaceship.
But if NASA can crack the puzzle, the journey of a small-100kg craft could be reduced to just three days.
This story first appeared in The Sun.