NASA just announced that a new type of space colonization spacecraft might be used in the future lunar and Martian missions. A couple of think-tanks working for the North-American space agency have put together a plan that can potentially revolutionize the way we look at space travel. A steam-powered vehicle will help Mars and Moon colonization.
The God of Steam Is Not Dead
As unlikely it may seem, NASA is actually planning to use water in order to launch vehicles into space. Remember, the first locomotive or the steam engine tugs on Mississippi? Well, it looks like the space agency is planning on dropping the whole rocket engine design, replacing it with a steam-powered one.
The scientists that are working on this project also called the “Swamp Works,” stated that water is probably the most versatile element found out there. You can drink it; you can use it to power different gizmos, and you can probably use it as a radiation shield. So why not use it for space travel?
According to their plans, NASA engineers are thinking of building steam-powered vehicles that can outmaneuver any spacecraft currently available, without consuming so much fuel. In theory, a steam-powered spacecraft or an exploration rover could bridge distances of over 30 kilometers on a single tank.
Furthermore, considering that the latest research shows that the lunar poles contain water in abundance, the process of colonizing the Moon might get a whole lot easier if we rely on steam-powered engines.
Looking Under the Hood
So, how does such a machine work? If you remember, a steam-powered engine works like this: when water comes to a boil, it produces the pressure required to move up and down the cylinders and pistons. The up and down motion produced by the mechanism is translated further to the machine.
NASA’s project is far simpler than this. Instead of letting the pressure build up inside the machine, the engineers want to use huge nozzles in order to vent out the steam. When the steam is vented from a port, the spacecraft moves forward or changes direction.
The applications of such a device are numerous. For example, if the project proves to be feasible, NASA can stop carrying water from Earth and start mining it on the Moon. Olivier de Weck, a professor of aeronautics, currently teaching at MIT, has stated that if NASA moves ahead with the plan, a ship’s payload will be reduced by 68 percent if it stops carrying water from Earth.
But NASA doesn’t want to stop here. Based on their calculations, a trip to Mars with an Apollo-style spacecraft, which is basically a “pack everything including the kitchen sink” concept, is far-fetched.
A lunar base, on the other hand, might help astronauts reach their designated target in no time. In fact, by 2030, NASA wants to set up a 3D printed village on the Moon, using mostly materials found on its surface. And it would seem that these steam-powered machines will play a crucial role in pulling off this stunt.
Image source: www.wikipedia.org