NASA’s Plan To Reach Mars Facing Changes And Delays

The planned launch of the LDSD became a minor hitch in NASA’s plans for this week as they wait to see which day the weather will prove cooperative to test out the Decelerator in preparation for its eventual trip to Mars.

The LDSD, or more properly called “Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator,” is a really huge balloon-like structure meant to slow down ships as they attempt to land on Mars. This design was created in response to the very real possibility that if a human-filled ship attempted to land at the speed other, unmanned ships like the rover have done in the past, it would rip their retinas right off of their eyes.

Fear not, however, because at this point the delay is nothing more than the whim of weather. NASA wants to make the attempt under the best possible conditions at this point, and the upcoming opportunities to do so fall on June 9, 11, or 14, with the determination being made the day beforehand if the launch will be a go.

However, all of the planning for the Mars Mission has recently faced the scrutiny of the National Research Council, who gave NASA a congressionally-mandated report of its findings earlier this week in a 286-page report.

In the report, the NRC stated that if NASA continues on its present course, the mission is doomed to failure, which would reflect badly on the United States, currently considered the frontrunner of technologies that take man beyond Earth.

The report went on to say we cannot reach Mars unless NASA and China cooperate in the effort, and our own nation rallies behind the effort to get there. They also advise taking small steps along the way, such as exploring asteroids or constructing an outpost on the Moon.

NASA’s reaction to the response was quite good. They promised to thoroughly review the report and all of its recommendations, and released this statement concerning the report.

They insist there is nothing wrong with setting the bar high by trying to set foot on Mars, as this will stimulate the desire to make the necessary technological advances needed to get there.
“A sustainable program of human deep space exploration must have an ultimate, ‘horizon’ goal,” they said.

The Obama administration is opposed to the costs of going to Mars and wants to capture an asteroid and put it in orbit around the Moon instead. That way, they say, we could explore it at our leisure.

In short, the NRC stated that a return to the Moon is needed to incite US citizens interest in the space program before attempting to visit another planet. They felt that without enough public support and a combined effort with the other space exploring countries, the sheer cost of a manned trip to Mars is not feasible at this time.

The dream of colonizing Mars extends beyond just NASA… find out more in this interesting documentary: