If you had a choice between going out once every ten years in a truly awesome spaceship or going out every year or two in a regular spaceship, which would you choose?
NASA, the U.S. space agency, made the second choice.So instead of designing a new spaceship for every mission, they'll stick to two basic models: the "sedan," designed for longer missions, and the "runabout," for shorter ones, reports 3-2-1 Contact magazine. This will keep the cost down and allow for more space travel. (A sedan is an enclosed automobile with two to four doors and seats four to six people. A runabout is a light, one-seated open automobile.)
All the NASA "sedans" and "runabouts" will look very much the same. But some of the scientific instruments will be different. NASA plans to launch the first "sedan" - Mariner Mark II - in 1995. The Mariner Mark II will explore a comet.
The first runabout - Planetary Observer - is set for launch sometime soon. It will orbit Mars. The "runabouts" are smaller than the "sedans," and since they stay close to the sun, they'll have to convert sunlight to fuel. Guess they won't need a sunroof, though.