Reality TV paves way for Neil Armstrong of Mars New Scientist

Commercial space-flight mogul Elon Musk has quipped that he would like to die on Mars – just not on impact. The quote highlights his desire to build reliable, affordable spacecraft that could one day carry the first people to land on the Red Planet.
Musk may have the technological prowess to make it happen. Last week his company SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, lofted its Grasshopper rocket a record 80 metres into the air, where it hovered for a few seconds before gently landing on hydraulic legs.
It’s not high compared with the distance to space but the ability to take off, land and then take off again, like the vehicles of science fiction, brings a reusable rocket a step closer. That could be one part of making interplanetary travel affordable, not to mention less polluting. Today, all rockets are single-use and discarded once their payload reaches orbit.