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Last Post 5/19/2015 12:24 PM by  Kris Sigsbee
Mars Human Flight
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5/18/2015 6:51 PM

    Patty W

    With all the involvement by private companies towards getting astronauts back in space from the US, using US launchers, what year do you believe we'll eventually land on Mars? Would you think by 20-25 years from now, and do we really need to visit and asteroid or one of Mars' moons first. Whats your take?

    Tags: Astronauts, Mars, space travel, SpaceX

    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    5/19/2015 12:24 PM

    Hi Patty,

    I don't know when we will finally land on Mars. This is a complicated question that depends upon the spaceflight technology available and NASA funding. Unfortunately, NASA's funding is strongly influenced by politics. The time frame in which we will be able to send people to Mars is more or less controlled by the willingness of Congress to commit sufficient long-term funding to such a project. The private companies who are working on sending astronauts back into space, like SpaceX, often depend on NASA funding for their projects. For example, SpaceX is contracted to deliver cargo to the ISS using the Dragon capsule under NASA's Commercial Re-Supply Services program. The trouble with private companies is that they generally only do things that are immediately profitable to their owners or shareholders, so unless these companies receive funding from the Federal Government, there is not much incentive for them to engage in space exploration.

    It isn't necessary to visit an asteroid or one of Mars' moons, or even the Earth's moon again before going to Mars. Sending astronauts to any of these places or establishing a base there would not save any time traveling to Mars. The only things we would gain out of such missions would be human spaceflight experience or opportunities to test equipment.

    If you want to read about what a manned mission to Mars might be like, "The Martian" by Andy Weir is a good book about an astronaut stranded on Mars and how NASA scientists and engineers work together to rescue him. The book doesn't get all of the science and engineering completely correct, but it is still fun to read. Unfortunately, this book has some bad language in it, so you might want to check with your parents first.


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