Cheap Travel to Mars, Is It Possible?

September 22, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. capsule (n.) [kap-suhl, -sool, -syool] – (in space travel) a vehicle designed to transport human beings to outer space; also known as space capsule or spacecraft
Example: Most boys dream of riding a space capsule and travel around the universe.

2. dock (v.) [dok] – to bring a vessel or vehicle to a landing area    
Example: The ship docked at the port of Dalian in China to avoid the heavy storms.

3. sustain (v.) [suh-steyn] – to support or maintain something
Example: Discipline is an important factor in sustaining a healthy lifestyle.

4. quest (n.) [kwest] – the act of searching or pursuing something
Example:  We all go through a quest in search of happiness.

5. settlement (n.) [set-l-muhnt] –an act of settling or residing, whether permanent or not, in a place
Example: Typhoon victims established a temporary settlement in a nearby town.

Read the text below.

Flights to Mars might soon be cheaper if a new joint project in the US becomes successful.

The project, currently called Red Dragon, involves the efforts of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), a private manufacturer of space vehicles.

Currently, SpaceX is testing the capability of a space capsule called Dragon to dock at NASA’s space station and deliver supplies. Under the Red Dragon project, the Dragon space capsule will be improved in order to carry not only goods but also people from Earth to Mars.

The idea for the project came after Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, and his team found that transporting a Dragon capsule via a rocket does not cost as much as expected. He said this costs only hundreds of millions, and not billions, of dollars as other people may think.

Red Dragon will be part of the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory to be launched by NASA in November. The said laboratory would examine if Mars can sustain life. Red Dragon’s part will involve drilling the planet’s buried ice to gather proof that life exists, or existed, there.

In this quest, NASA will also be able to demonstrate if Red Dragon can transport heavy load to Mars. Such a transport system, experts say, is important to make settlement and existence in another planet a possibility.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

·         Is space exploration done by your country?
·         Do you think that a government should set a high budget for studies about outer space?

Discussion B

·         Do you believe that life can exist in other planets like Mars?
Do you believe aliens or other extra-terrestrial beings live on other planets? Why or any not?

September 22, 2011