Once again, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden made it clear in no uncertain terms that America will be making it to Mars by the 2030s, sending humans to the Red Planet for the first time in about two decades from now.
Speaking at the Humans to Mars Summit in Washington D.C., Bolden said Tuesday that the possibility of Americans landing on Mars in 2030s is “attainable,” as a trip to the planet “matters to the humanity and the pursuit of human progress.” The goal for NASA to send humans to Mars by the 2030s was originally set by President Barack Obama in 2010, and Bolden believes the agency is making good time towards reaching that target.
A new ExoMars orbiter is expected to launch in 2016 and circle Mars at that time, and another Mars rover may be launched in 2018. However, Bolden isn’t satisfied with merely sending robots to the Red Planet. He said that robots lay the groundwork and gather preliminary data quite well, but his quotes at the Humans to Mars summit suggest that the most important thing will ultimately be sending humans to the Martian surface. There are many ways to achieve this, he added, also stressing that NASA now has an outline for a feasible space mission, considering what people know about space travel in general.
It appears that NASA is indeed making good time, as the agency’s SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, both of which are designed to carry humans to Mars, are now undergoing tests. The Orion spacecraft may be tested by the 2020 as it explores an asteroid and returns samples from that asteroid to Earth. Further, NASA is also looking more into the effects of long-term space travel as it observes astronauts aboard the International Space Station. This will all happen, or is happening ahead of the six-month trip to Mars NASA is expecting, though financing may be a lingering problem in the run-up to the Mars trip.