The Michigan State University Engine Research Laboratory is usually calm, but by midmorning on this August day, everyone is on edge. Then, a few minutes before noon, assistant engineering professor Norbert Müller gets the call they’re all waiting for: The most influential man in energy research is here to see Müller’s work.
Veteran astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz has spent four decades developing his rocket fueled by nuclear reactors and liquid hydrogen. Now NASA just might let it fly
By Sam Howe VerhovekPosted 10.13.2010 at 3:10 pm 41 Comments
You might expect to find our brightest hope for sending astronauts to other planets in Houston, at NASA's Johnson Space Center, inside a high-security multibillion-dollar facility. But it's actually a few miles down the street, in a large warehouse behind a strip mall. This bland and uninviting building is the private aerospace start-up Ad Astra Rocket Company, and inside, founder Franklin Chang Díaz is building a rocket engine that's faster and more powerful than anything NASA has ever flown before. Speed, Chang Díaz believes, is the key to getting to Mars alive.