It’s Official. Humans Are Going to Mars. NASA Has Unveiled Their Mission.

Humanity has been fascinated by Mars since long before we stepped foot on the Moon. Our planetary neighbor has been the subject of innumerable works of sci-fi and inspired countless dreams of adventure and exploration. Now, after decades of determination, research, and scientific breakthroughs, we’re finally ready to do it: humans are going to Mars. Really.

Last year President Trump issued a mandate for NASA: get people to Mars by 2033. One week later, NASA responded with its most detailed plan to date for reaching the Red Planet, and it details five phases along the road to Mars.

We’re in Phase 0 now, conducting tests at the International Space Station (ISS) and developing partnerships with private space companies. Phase I will span 2018 to 2025 and will include the launch and testing of six SLS rockets. Those rockets will deliver components of the Deep Space Gateway (DSG), a new space station to be built near the Moon to serve astronauts en route to Mars.

After that, Phase II will launch the Deep Space Transport (DST) tube toward the lunar station in 2027, and in 2028 or 2029, astronauts will inhabit the tube for more than 400 days.

In 2030, Phase III will see the DST restocked with supplies and the Mars crew via SLS rocket. Phase IV, of course, will be the trip itself in 2033. That means we’re just a scant 16 years away from reaching a goal that has eluded every generation that came before us.

Completing the mission within their budget will be a challenge for NASA. That budget is currently about .5 percent of the total U.S. budget. For comparison, it was more than four percent during the Apollo Moon missions.

The mission to Mars includes obstacles beyond budget — keeping astronauts healthy and reasonably happy on the journey is chief among them. Without stopovers between Earth and Mars, astronauts will need to port everything they need with them, including air, food, and water, for a round-trip duration of two or three years.

Mental health is likely to be a concern for Mars astronauts, too, as they will essentially be sealed into the space tube for years at a time, with no ability for an emergency return once they leave Cislunar space. NASA’s HI-SEAS isolation experiment has shown promising results, but it is likely that the journey won’t be possible for everyone.

NASA also has competition in the race to get to Mars. Both Boeing and SpaceX hope to get there first, with SpaceX setting the lofty goal of arriving in 2022.

Ultimately, though, we all benefit from the friendly competition in the race toward Mars and the creative solutions it will almost certainly generate. If private companies work out some of these human challenges before NASA can, the agency can build on their experiences and spend its budget and efforts on other problems. In the end, the goal of putting humans on Mars will have been reached, irrespective of which organization crosses the finish line first.

Comments

  1. ... this must be the shot we're waiting for pres. Trump calling the initiative to have man conquering beyond earth. To MARS is the homo sapiens final frontier. . no m0re looking back.gO, Go



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  2. Small steps Ellie small steps.....

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  3. As someone who is aspiring to become an ASE I hope I'll get through school in time to have a hand in this.

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  4. this will never happen......with so many steps you increase the likelihood of accidents...delay in execution and of course delay in funding by successive administrations. Look at apollo....we had planned Apollo PLUS after landing on the moon and Nixon killed it becasue of budget constraints due to Viet Nam ( which turned out to be a lie because Nixon actually balanced the budget one of the last presidents to do so)...If you want to go to Mars you go to mars you don't waste decades going to some moon base which must be built,.. tested...then there is the tube the astronauts are going to be "subjected too"...what clap trap...sailors have been in nuclear subs since the 1950s and we don't have history of them going insane...all the nasa plan is make work for gov't employees and make busines for the military industrial complex companies who run the country....If you REALLY want to go to Mars follow Dr Zubrins Mars Direct Plan.....mars in 10 years and $10 billion...not the ridiculous $400 billion nasa wants for their 20-30 yr program.....Elon Musk embraces Dr Zubrins Mars Direct plan ( read about it on The Mars Society web site and in Dr Zubrins book " the case for mars")...write your congressman and have them embrace Mars direct...it will bring needed technical jobs back to usa like Apollo did back in the 1960s......we don't need more nasa boon doggles like the shuttle to no where and the space station...two projects which never reached their goals...

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