“Are we there yet?” Everyone has faced this exasperating question from impatient companions on a long road trip. Imagine if the trip lasted six months. One way. It takes conventional rockets about six months just to get to Mars. Total roundtrip times can be as long as three years, because an extended stay on the Red Planet is required while the Earth and Mars progress in their orbits enough to be closely aligned again for the return trip. But an exciting NASA-funded research project could send astronauts racing to Mars up to six times faster. The solution — proposed by Dr. Robert Winglee of the University of Washington — sounds like science fiction. A spacecraft rides a beam of plasma, which is electrified and magnetized gas, all the way to Mars and back. The roundtrip journey could be wrapped up in about 90 days using Winglee’s Magnetized Beam Plasma Propulsion system, dubbed Magbeam.