ou’re on a luxury cruise, sipping an ice-cold beer at one of the half-dozen bars scattered throughout the ship and winding down with friends before dinner. You booked a table for the second seating of the evening at the onboard steakhouse, which is rumored to be superb. You hope to meet the captain.
This cruise-ship scenario may seem mundane, but actually isn't -- because you're in space. And this isn't just any old space cruise; this one's taking you and hundreds of other well-heeled passengers on a six-month journey from a dying Earth to Mars, which you'll call home for the rest of your life.
Roll your eyes, but it's not entirely science fiction. Sure, a high-end space cruise to a colonized Mars is still decades, if not centuries, away. The soonest that NASA projects it’ll be ready to send its best-trained astronauts to the Red Planet is the 2030s, and even that timeline is ambitious, given the enormous engineering challenges involved with safely transporting people in a vehicle capable of traveling nearly 34 million miles away from Earth.