Ever since the economy started to show signs of sluggishness, space buffs have been worried about NASA's efforts to be the first to put a man on Mars and return him safely to Earth. Even though manned space flights have been put on the kibosh for the time being, that hasn't stopped NASA's plans to conquer the red planet.
The space agency announced
a new "Space Launch System" currently in development that they hope will be able to carry a crew of astronauts to Mars, the first time the agency has worked on an exploration-class vehicle since the Saturn V rockets more than 40 years ago.
The new craft can lift more than 70 metric tons off the ground with
9.2 million pounds of thrust, the equivalent of 208,000 Corvette engines and more than 20 percent of the trust of the original Saturn V rocket. No official start date has been launched for its first mission, but NASA hopes to have the first development flight ready to take to the skies by the end of 2017.Photo: Apic/Hulton Archive/Getty Images