NASA’s always looking for ways to improve space flight. With news regarding the neptune-sized planets similar to ours, our imaginations begin to run wild. What if we could travel there? The planets are 41 light years away. That means, even if we could travel at the speed of light, it would still take us 41 years to get there.
NASA’s got some things up its sleeve though. As of now, the NASA Ames Research Center is testing high-tech materials they hope will withstand temperatures three times hotter than the surface of the sun. These “heat shields” are extremely critical to developing space flight. The hotter the temperatures the shuttle can withstand, the faster it can go. Also, think back to August 2003 when the space shuttle, Columbia, exploded during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. The extreme temperatures caused the shuttle to break apart. A new heat shield would have prevented that.
NASA is currently developing the new heat shield for the Crew Exploration Vehicle which is the space craft planned to take six astronauts back to the moon by 2012 (plan of the Bush Administration).