SpaceX is working on a heavy lifter launch vehicle that they call the Falcon Heavy. The Falcon Heavy will be twice as powerful as the next biggest rocket in the world, the Delta IV Heavy and will on cost one third as much to launch. It will be able to lift about one hundred and twenty thousand pounds into orbit. Only the Saturn V rocket that carried men to the moon in 1973 could lift a larger payload.
Almost fifty years ago, the human race set foot on the Moon. But then interest in manned lunar missions waned and we have not been back. There have been many fly-bys and landings on the Moon since we landed there but only by machines. Now interest is growing in a return to the Moon in force to establish manned lunar stations and to seek new mineral resources.
Every day small asteroids hit the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up before they reach the surface. One of the great existential threats to the human race is the possibility that a big asteroid could hit the Earth and devastate the ecosystem of the entire planet. Thousands of asteroids regularly cross the orbit of the Earth and pose a serious threat.
I have blogged before about NASA’s use of nuclear isotopes for thermal batteries in space probes. Nuclear batteries provide the long term reliable and maintenance free power needed for long space missions. Now NASA is considering the use of nuclear fission reactors fueled with uranium for installations on Mars.