With all the recent buzz around the recent unmanned missions to Mars by the U.S. and India, a large section of space enthusiasts are wondering if they would be able to witness a manned mission to Mars in their lifetimes. While NASA, the premier space organization on the planet still does not have concrete plans for a manned mission to the red planet, a feasibility study conducted by a non governmental organization suggests that it is likely that NASA could launch its first manned mission to Mars by the year 2033. In fact, by the year 2039, we could see the first humans land on Mars.
According to Yahoo! News, a study by The Planetary Society has estimated the feasibility and cost aspects related to a full-scale series of manned mission to Mars. At news conference held by the representatives of the society, they presented the results of their study. The study states that a manned mission to the red planet is feasible by the mid 2030’s and is within the grasp of NASA’s human space exploration budget. The news conference was held after a two-day workshop organized at Washington D.C.
Titled “Humans Orbiting Mars”, the workshop boasted of over 70 attendees who talked at length the feasibility and the long terms benefits of a manned mission to Mars. The initial plan was to first send a manned mission into an orbit around Mars – followed by a manned mission to the planet’s surface.
Scott Hubbard, a professor at the Stanford University Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a member of The Planetary Society’s board of directors, said in a statement.
“We believe we now have an example of a long-term, cost-constrained, executable humans-to-Mars program.”
The Planetary Society is home to several other eminent science experts, including its CEO Bill Nye (of the “Science Guy” fame), and John Logsdon, a professor emeritus at The George Washington University Space Policy Institute. Logsdon serves as one of the board of directors at The Planetary Society- which also happens to be the largest nongovernmental space advocacy organization in the world.
A separate statement was issued by the attendees of the two-day workshop which said that they had “reached a consensus” on several key points that was a precursor to ensure a successful manned mission to Mars. One of them being the fact that an orbital mission would be necessary before the all-important Mars landing mission. The attendees also unanimously agreed that the entire program would fit into NASA’s budget – albeit under one condition. NASA would have to end “its leading role in the International Space Station” for that to happen.
The attendees also compared the future Mars mission to the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon – which took humans into an orbit around the moon for the first time. On the Apollo 11 mission, humans landed on the moon for the first time. It is estimated that an orbital mission to Mars would last a total of 30 months – most of which would include travelling either ways and spending time in orbit.
Humans have been dreaming of manned missions to other planets ever since the dawn of the space-age. However, of late, the enthusiasm for these expensive manned mission has been waning thanks to budgetary and political constraints. Do you think humans would be able to make it to Mars by the 2030’s?
[Photo by Jasin Boland/Warner Bros./Newsmakers]