An anonymous reader writes: Getting anywhere in space is a difficult proposition — at least, if you want to get there in a timely manner. Rocket propulsion requires combustion mass. The more mass you take, the more you need. A team at MIT has found that establishing fuel-generating infrastructure on the Moon could reduce launch mass for missions to Mars by up to 68%. "They found the most mass-efficient path involves launching a crew from Earth with just enough fuel to get into orbit around the Earth. A fuel-producing plant on the surface of the moon would then launch tankers of fuel into space, where they would enter gravitational orbit. The tankers would eventually be picked up by the Mars-bound crew (PDF), which would then head to a nearby fueling station to gas up before ultimately heading to Mars." The technology to make this happen is not difficult to build; it just requires a lot of money. Once it's in place, it'll cut down on expensive launch costs. As the commercial space industry gets going and launches happen more often, such an investment starts to make more and more sense.
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