The problem with traditional rockets is that they’re terribly inefficient. About 90% of a mission’s initial weight is fuel, most of which is burned up escaping earth’s gravitational pull.
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But the chemical propulsion system that took them to the moon would take six months, at least, to get a man to Mars and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. However, a new ion plasma rocket being developed by another former astronaut, Franklin Chang-Diaz, could potentially reach Mars in just 39 days using a fraction of the fuel.
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