It’s no big secret that NASA’s planning a mission to Mars sometime in the near future. But, up until now, there has been very little said about if officially; mainly just speculation and rumors. However, that’s now changed. On March 21, a mandate was issued by President Trump that vowed to get people to Mars by 2033. Just one week later, NASA revealed its plans to get to Mars, detailing each of the five phases involved.
Phase 0 is happening now which involves carrying out tests at the International Space Station (ISS) and forming valuable partnerships with various private space companies. The next phase, Phase I, will focus on the launch and testing of six SLS rockets and will span between 2018 to 2025. Phase II will launch the Deep Space Transport (DST) tube in 2027, then in 2028 or 2029 astronauts will live in the tube for over 400 days. Phase III will involve the DST getting restocked with supplies as well as the Mars crew via SLS rocket. The last phase, Phase IV, will be the actual trip itself in 2033.
So, in just 16 years from now, we could be achieving the once thought impossible dream of setting up home on Mars. One of NASA’s main challenges will be keeping within budget, which is something the organization’s notoriously bad at. The actual budget for the Mars mission currently sits at around .5 percent of the total U.S. budget, but in comparison to the Apollo Moon mission budget at over 4 percent, that’s not actually that bad (if it can be stuck to).
Keeping astronauts safe and relatively happy is NASA’s number one priority. And ensuring they have all the supplies they need including food, air, and water for a long-haul trip is essential. But, all this does come at a cost and is often the reason why the budget’s overstretched. So, who will be the first to reach Mars is yet to be seen, but both SpaceX and Boeing seem to be heading he competition with estimated arrival dates on Mars as early as 2022!
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