What Star Wars And Other Science Fiction Favorites Get Wrong About Space Travel : Short Wave Contrary to sci-fi depictions in shows like Iron Man and Star Wars, getting from point A to point B in space is a tough engineering problem. NPR Science Correspondent Geoff Brumfiel explains how space propulsion actually works, and why some new technologies might be needed to get humans to Mars and beyond.

Follow Geoff Brumfiel and Short Wave co-host Emily Kwong on Twitter. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

What Science Fiction Gets Wrong About Space Travel

What Science Fiction Gets Wrong About Space Travel

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This artist concept shows NASA Dawn spacecraft arriving at the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn travels through space using a technology called ion propulsion, with ions glowing with blue light are accelerated out of an engine, giving the spacecraft thrust. NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech

This artist concept shows NASA Dawn spacecraft arriving at the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn travels through space using a technology called ion propulsion, with ions glowing with blue light are accelerated out of an engine, giving the spacecraft thrust.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Contrary to sci-fi depictions in shows like Iron Man and Star Wars, getting from point A to point B in space is a tough engineering problem. NPR Science Correspondent Geoff Brumfiel, with help from scientist Naia Butler-Craig, explains how space propulsion actually works, and why some new technologies might be needed to get humans to Mars and beyond.

Follow Geoff Brumfiel and Short Wave co-host Emily Kwong on Twitter. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Brit Hanson, fact-checked by Indi Khera and edited by Gisele Grayson.