Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Last rocketeers set sights on Mars

"'We need to exceed where we were with the Apollo program,' says Musk, whose company, SpaceX, plans its first orbital launch next year. 'We have to go to Mars with people. A lot of people take for granted that that's the direction we're heading in, but unless there's a dramatic reduction in cost, there won't be anything like that. Somebody has to try to step in and try to save the day.'"

I really hope this headline is mistaken in calling Project Paperclip scientists the "last rocketeers"; hopefully they'll eventually be counted among the very first.

Or, just possibly, chemical rockets as we know them might be phased out by relatively cheap, clean electrogravitic technology -- in which case Musk and his friends just might be among the last after all. The "flying triangles" suggest a radical propulsion system that could make Apollo-style rockets laughably primitive by comparison . . . but are they ours?

(I recommend that any science fiction readers perusing this blog read Ken MacLeod's "Engines of Light" trilogy; the first book, "Cosmonaut Keep," presents an ingenious flying saucer back-engineering scenario that's so plausible in might, in fact, have already happened.)

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