US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Artist's impression of a proposed spaceship for visiting Mars. The spaceship is propelled by an ion-drive motor, itself powered by a small nuclear reactor. The reactor generates electricity which is used to ionise and accelerate xenon gas atoms. The ion stream can be generated for long periods, providing more propulsion for inter-planetary flight than conventional fuels. A Mars landing vehicle is seen at the far right end of the spacecraft, docked to the crew module. Current US plans call for a manned flight to Mars in 2015, using the Moon as a staging-post.
Model release not required. Property release not required.