Mars in three days? NASA touts new propulsion system

Published February 22, 2016

With all the talk of one day launching a human mission to Mars, it still would take upwards of six months to reach the Red Planet.

But NASA researchers are working on new laser technology that could allow a craft to reach Mars in as little as three days. Known as photonic propulsion, the system would works by using lasers to propel a giant sail. Rather than photons from the Sun's rays, the system would get a boost from Earth-based lasers, according to ScienceAlert.

"There are recent advances which take this from science fiction to science reality," Philip Lubin, of the University of California Santa Barbara, said in a video about his NASA Innovative Advanced Concept (NIAC) for energy propulsion for interstellar exploration.

"There is no known reason why we can't do this," he continued. "There is a roadmap which you can look at in our paper to relativistic flight. The system is completely scalable modularly, built to any size you want from a tiny one to a gigantic one."

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