Tuesday, May 5, 2015

NASA: Humans Are Closer To Making It To Mars Than Ever Before

NASA administrator Charles Bolden opened the Humans to Mars Summit at The George Washington University on Monday by telling an audience that the agency is on track to meet a goal set by President Obama five years ago of landing humans on the red planet in the 2030s.

“This plan is clear, this plan is affordable and this plan is sustainable,” Bolden said. ”I’ve spent my entire life being 20 – 30 years away from going to Mars, and I think we’re incredibly closer today.”

Bolden’s comments came shortly before the release of a new study(PDF) from Explore Mars, Inc. — the non-profit organizing the Humans to Mars Summit — with input from NASA. The report details six “building blocks” needed to carry out a journey to Mars — the new Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft, a deep space habitat, entry, descent and landing techniques (EDL) and new technologies like solar electric propulsion and a Mars ascent vehicle.

“I’m pleased to report that work is already underway at NASA on four of the six critical elements,” Bolden said.

Bolden explained that before humans can go t0 Mars in the 2030s, NASA plans on conducting a decade’s worth of research in the 2020s, primarily in orbit around the moon.

“That is not the dead decade,” Bolden said. “That is a critical decade in which we’re going to do continued technology development, continue to find out more about the human body and how we sustain it in a hostile environment, being away from gravity.”

At the end of his remarks, Bolden asked an 11-year-old girl from North Carolina in the audience if she was interested in going to Mars:

“Please say yes, I promise we’re gonna bring you back… Have faith, we’re gonna get there.”