The Deep-Space Engines That Could One Day Take Us Past Mars
If humans are ever going to explore deep space, the propulsion chemical rockets we currently use won't cut it.By Evan Thomas | May 3, 2016
This is space travel as we know it, but chemical rockets aren't going to cut it for long-haul missions to Mars or beyond. To really get away from Earth, astronauts will need something faster, lighter and longer-lasting.
One option is ion thrusters. These are great for long-duration flights. They use 10 times less fuel than chemical rockets to go the same distance, but they don't provide nearly as much thrust — so the trip takes longer.
With current ion drives, it would take more than a year to get a six-person crew from Earth to Mars.