Get to Mars in 45 days! Scientists develop a laser propulsion system that will make it possible

Scientists at McGill University (Montreal, Canada) present in a recent study  the design of a "laser-thermal propulsion" system that would allow humans to reach Mars in just 45 days.

NASA, which plans to send a manned mission to the red planet in the mid-2030s, expects such a trip to take about 500 days .

However, McGill engineers believe it's possible to cut the journey down to just over six weeks thanks to directed-energy propulsion , which uses large lasers fired from Earth to deliver power to a hydrogen heating chamber on the spacecraft. and, in this way, promote it.

The spacecraft speeds up rapidly while close to our planet, and in the following month it makes the long way to Mars. For landing, the main vehicle is released and the rest of the ship is returned to Earth so that it can be recycled for the next launch.

The idea of ​​directed-energy propulsion had previously been proposed by other scientists in a project that involves using lasers to send small sail probes to the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri.

The system uses laser beams to propel a spacecraft into deep space at relativistic speeds, a fraction of the speed of light. The more powerful the laser, the faster the spacecraft can be accelerated.

"We were interested in how the same laser technology could be used for rapid transit in the solar system," said  Emmanuel Duplay, lead author of the recent study.

The conceptual spacecraft created by the team would require a 100-megawatt, 10-meter-diameter array of lasers .

"Our approach would use a much more intense laser flux on the spacecraft to directly heat the propellant, similar to a giant steam boiler," Duplay said.

The engineer also points out that "the development of high-temperature materials that allow the spacecraft to break against the Martian atmosphere upon arrival" would be necessary.

Diaper technology

The problem is that these technologies are still in their early stages and have only been developed at a theoretical level, so they may not be ready for the next decade.

"The laser heating chamber is probably the biggest challenge," Duplay concludes.


  1. what about space particles hitting it at some % of light speed?

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