Support Provided ByLearn More

Plasma Rockets

With a "small sun" for an engine, a new rocket might be able to zip us to Mars and back in under three months.
Publish Date: Topic: Space + FlightSpace & Flight

What if astronauts could take an express voyage to Mars—one that would last not two-and-a-half years but just a few weeks? A new rocket called VASIMR, powered by a million-degree plasma instead of traditional chemicals, could be the answer NASA is looking for—if only its designers could keep the super-hot engine from melting under its own heat.

Support Provided ByLearn More

Explore More

National corporate funding for NOVA is provided by Draper. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers. Additional funding is provided by the NOVA Science Trust.