from the i-don't-see-giant-laser-beam-on-there dept.
FleaPlus writes "As part of its new plans, NASA has outlined the initial series of large-scale 'flagship' technology demonstration (FTD) missions for developing and testing technologies needed for sustainable beyond-Earth exploration, complementing the smaller-scale ETDD missions outlined previously. The first four FTD missions (costing $400M-$1B each, about the cost of the recent Ares I-X suborbital rocket launch) are scheduled to launch between 2014 and 2016, demonstrating advanced in-space propulsion (next-generation ion propulsion and solar arrays), in-space propellant transfer and storage, a lightweight/inflatable mission module at the ISS (which will also test closed-loop life support), and an inflatable aeroshell for aerocapture at Mars. A multi-purpose robotic rendezvous and docking vehicle will also be developed to support these missions."
"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers."
-- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a
particularly vivid fantasy)