The future (or lack thereof) of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program

NASA’s ongoing program for exploring Mars with orbiters and rovers appears, at first glance, to be working well. Jason Callahan and Casey Dreier describe how the program is actually facing serious questions about its future because of funding challenges.

(Credit:  Jason Callahan and Casey Dreier)

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A legal look at Elon Musk’s plans to colonize Mars

Elon Musk unveiled his plans last September for establishing a permanent human presence on Mars, with a focus on the technical issues of getting people to Mars. Michael Listner examines some of the legal obstacles that such an effort would have to overcome.

(credit: Michael J. Listner )

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Giving a push for in-space propulsion

With NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission now cancelled, the agency is looking for other ways to demonstrate advanced propulsion technologies like high-power solar electric propulsion. Jeff Foust reports on what concepts NASA is working with industry on that could find eventual use on Mars exploration missions.

(Credit: Jeff Foust)

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Orbiting spacecraft serve as a Martian satellite communications network for NASA’s rovers and landers. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

SpaceX’s proposal for sending humans to Mars to create a colony there faces a number of legal issues at least as significant as its technical hurdles. (credit: SpaceX)

Several companies are working on advanced electric propulsion technologies that could reduce the cost of sending cargo to Mars or even provide shorter travel times for crewed missions. (credit: MSNW LLC)