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Cheaper, easier route to Mars mapped

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Scientists have managed to map out an alternative route to Mars for manned missions that is both cheaper and easier.

The new route solves two major problems that have been the reason why manned mission to Mars hasn’t been a possibility till now – cost of the journey and the periodicity constraint.

It requires lobbing the ship into an orbit like that of Mars so that it flies ahead of the planet, called ballistic capture. That was instead of the Hohmann transfer that’s currently used, where the spaceship was aimed at a certain place in the Mars orbit and meets it there.

The two techniques cost the same at launch and while it cruises. But the expensive burn of fuel to slow down and aim when the ship reaches Mars would be reduced.

The 25 per cent less fuel used would reduce costs, and would make the ship lighter and therefore even cheaper to launch.

But the new route takes a few months longer, and even on the old route the journey takes six months.