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Building New Rockets What will it take to send a crew to Mars? Rockets, of course. A trip to Mars can’t be made with only one rocket, though. It’s too far away. A single rocket would need a lot of fuel. T at would make the rocket too heavy to get off the ground. Engineers may have a way to solve that

problem. T ey’re people who use scientific knowledge to solve problems. Sometimes, they create new technology to find their answer. In this case, engineers want to build several new types of rockets. Each rocket would be an important part of a mission to Mars. One rocket might carry supplies. Other

rockets might carry sections of a spacecraſt . T ese sections would be fitted together once they were in orbit around Earth. When all the pieces were put together, a last

rocket would deliver the crew to the finished spacecraſt . T en it would head toward Mars.


What you need to know about Mars:

• Mars is about half the diameter of Earth.

• A year on Mars lasts for 687 Earth days. A day on Mars lasts 24 hours, 37 minutes.

• Temperatures range from –153°C (–225°F) near the poles to 20°C (70°F) near the equator.

• The air is mostly carbon dioxide. It has hardly any oxygen.

Testing the Rockets Inventing new rockets is a big step. It takes years of planning and designing. Engineers have a lot of problem-solving to do when creating something new. T e engineers don’t stop working as soon as

a rocket is built. T ere still may be problems to solve. All spacecraſt have to be tested to make sure they’re safe. Testing takes time. NASA is building its most powerful rocket

yet. T is rocket will make its first test flight in 2017. T is flight will be without a crew, just to make sure the rocket works and is safe. T e first test flight with a crew is scheduled

for 2021. Yet this crew wouldn’t go to Mars. T is crew would only orbit Earth. Sending a crew all the way to Mars wouldn’t happen much before 2035. Testing rockets and spacecraſt is a key to the

mission’s success. Making sure the crew can survive the trip is an even greater challenge.


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